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New row over 'misleading EU treaty'

London Telegraph | August 17, 2007
Brendan Carlin

Pressure for a referendum on the controversial European constitution grew last night amid growing signs of public concern and fresh claims that voters are being misled.

Almost 50,000 have now signed The Daily Telegraph's petition calling for a referendum on the proposed new settlement. All three main parties originally pledged a referendum on the original EU draft constitution. And yesterday, there were claims that the new document was essentially a revival of the constitutional settlement famously rejected by referendums in France and Holland in 2005.

The Open Europe think-tank published research showing the new draft was exactly the same length as the rejected constitution and contained similar threats to British sovereignty.

According to the think-tank, which campaigns for a more flexible, open Europe, the original constitutional treaty ran to 63,000 words. When the new proposals, involving a series of amendments to existing treaties, were put together in a consolidated text, the proposals new treaty came to the same length.

Open Europe also sought to debunk the Government's argument that the new draft was substantially different from what went before.

Neil O'Brien, the Open Europe director, said that although ministers insisted they had now inserted new "red lines" and opt-outs into the revised proposals, those safeguards were in the original constitution.

Open Europe also raised concerns that the proposed new arrangements would end Britain's veto in foreign policy in 11 key areas including terrorism and mutual defence.

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