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Brown may "shift" …

Posted by Richard Sunday, September 09, 2007

click the pic to enlargeMr Brown, our highly respected and revered prime minister may "shift" on a referendum says The Sunday Telegraph. With my failing eyesight, I had to look carefully at the word as one tiny alteration (see picture) could change the meaning altogether.

Anyhow, this is the latest twist on the soap opera that started on Tuesday or thereabouts, this one brought to us by John Hutton, secretary of state for business and enterprise.

The government, he says, "would wait to see the fine print of the treaty before a public vote is ruled out."

Read the detail of the Hutton statement, however, and it becomes apparent that this is more of the same. The new treaty poses "issues that are of real concern" about "economic and foreign policy sovereignty" and that it is vital that Britain's "red line" issues - concerning national sovereignty - are enshrined in the final document.

Call it a scene-setter if you like, and fast-forward to October, when Brown comes out of the Council in the wee small hours, or whenever, beaming mightily, pronouncing that Britain’s position has been safeguarded, and his "red lines" have been "respected". We really have heard it all before.

Next week's TUC conference should offer a brief bit of fun though, as on Wednesday afternoon delegates are set to vote on whether there should be a referendum. You can bet there will be some frenzied negotiation in the smoke-free rooms, while Brown's "advisors" head off would could be an embarrassing blip. Deals will be in the offing, you can bet.

Meanwhile, Gisela Stuart in an authored piece in The Sunday Times, tells us "only a referendum will do". It is a worthy piece in its own way, and worth a read, setting out a useful, if limited vade mecum on the case for a referendum.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, however, just change the nameplate on the top caption in the picture (photoshop anyone?), and print it in every newspaper in the land. People will very soon get the message, if they haven't already.

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