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UK referendum on EU reform treaty sought in court challenge

[JURIST] An influential UK Conservative Party donor has launched a legal effort to force the UK government to put the ratification of the new EU reform treaty [JURIST news archive] properly known as the Treaty of Lisbon [official website; PDF text] to a public vote, the BBC reported Tuesday. Stuart Wheeler [BBC profile] argues that Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official website] has broken a pledge to hold a referendum on the pact warranting judicial review; Brown has said that a referendum is unnecessary because the treaty does not affect the UK constitution or impinge on British sovereignty. MPs are currently scheduled to begin debate on whether to ratify the treaty, but Wheeler, who said he expects review to be granted, said the treaty could not be ratified while judicial review, if granted, is pending. The treaty must be ratified by all 27 EU member state signatories before it can take effect.

Last year, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs David Miliband [official profile] similarly rejected calls for a general referendum on the treaty, instead insisting [transcript] that it was sufficiently "different...in absolute essence" from the earlier draft European Constitution [JURIST news archive] that would have been put to a popular vote [JURIST report]. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected the referendum option [JURIST report] earlier last year before leaving office. BBC News has more.

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