UK to vote 'if treaty survives French referendum'

23rd May 2005, Comments 0 comments

BRUSSELS, May 23 (AFP) - Britain will vote on the EU constitution "if there is a treaty to ratify," a key British minister said Monday, voicing hope that French and Dutch voters would back the pact in upcoming referendums.

BRUSSELS, May 23 (AFP) - Britain will vote on the EU constitution "if there is a treaty to ratify," a key British minister said Monday, voicing hope that French and Dutch voters would back the pact in upcoming referendums.  

But Europe Minister Douglas Alexander declined to speculate on what might happen if either France or the Netherlands - or both - vote "no" in ballots over the next eight days.  

"If there is a treaty to ratify then we will have a referendum in Britain," he told reporters in the sidelines of a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Brussels.  

"That being said I don't think it's wise to get into a range of hypothetical discussions in terms of what the French and what the Dutch voters will decide," he added.  

Opinion polls indicate that France may reject the constitution in a vote next Sunday, in what would be a devastating blow to the EU charter. A Dutch ballot is due two days later, and polls indicate even greater opposition.  

The British minister rejected the suggestion that Prime Minister Tony Blair might actually welcome a "no" vote in France, since it might let him off the hook of being blamed for the failure of the constitution.  

"We hope that the French and the Dutch people come to a view that supports the ratification," he said.  

"We wouldn't have signed the treaty in Rome if we did not then want to take forward the process of ratification along with other member state countries," he added.  

The minister - whose country takes over the EU's rotating presidency on July 1 - also dismissed a suggestion that the uncertainty over the constitution could cloud Turkey's hopes of starting EU entry talks in October.  

"We anticipate opening accession negotiations on the 3rd of October during the British presidency," he said, adding that the French and Dutch votes are "on the constitutional treaty," and not on EU enlargement.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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