UK High Court to consider referendum on EU reform treaty

UK High Court to consider referendum on EU reform treaty

[JURIST] The UK High Court has agreed to consider whether the UK government must 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. Influential UK Conservative Party donor Stuart Wheeler [BBC profile] launched a legal bid to force a referendum [JURIST report] in January, arguing that Prime Minister Gordon Brown [official website] had 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.

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] had in stayed in play beyond political reversals in France and the Netherlands. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected the referendum option [JURIST report] earlier last year before leaving office. BBC News has more.