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World News

Brown holds firm on refusal of EU treaty vote

BOURNEMOUTH (Reuters) - Prime Minister Gordon Brown held firm on Wednesday over his refusal to hold a referendum on the European Union reform treaty, despite mounting pressure from politicians, unions and the media.

Brown said he would ensure that all London’s demands or red lines were met in the final text of the treaty and insisted the document marked no fundamental change to how Britain is run.

“If we were making a decision on the euro, there would be a referendum. If we had the same constitutional treaty that was abandoned, we said there would be a referendum,” he told Labour’s annual conference in the seaside town of Bournemouth.

“But we said before negotiations took place in Brussels a few months ago that if we secured all our objectives, in other words there were opt-outs for Britain in a range of areas, there wouldn’t be a need for a referendum,” he added.

Labour Party and opposition politicians, trade unions that help finance Labour and a number of popular newspapers are lobbying Brown to hold a national vote but Brown shows no sign of bowing to the pressure.

Opposition Conservative Party leader David Cameron has promised to hold a referendum if he were prime minister.

But Brown insists that parliament should approve the treaty, not the British people.

“We’ve got to ensure our red lines are protected in the detail of the amending treaty. I believe people will see we have achieved all the British objectives and when we do so we can have a further debate on it,” he said.

EU leaders agreed in June on a blueprint for the treaty to overhaul the enlarged 27-nation bloc’s creaking institutions, replacing a more ambitious constitution that was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.

Tony Blair signed up to that blueprint before Brown succeeded him in late June.

EU leaders now hope to agree the final text of the treaty at a summit on Oct 18-19.

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