Blair's EU crusade gets off to a
Pro-Europeans fear it may be impossible for a referendum to be won by those in favour of Europe
Financial Times 26/6 2004
Mr Blair returned from an EU summit in Brussels last weekend hailing Europe's newly-agreed constitution. He believes he successfully defended Britain's "red lines" - the UK's demand that it retain the national veto in areas like tax, foreign policy and social security. He believes, too, that the summit exposed France and Germany as no longer dominating the EU after its expansion to 25 members and that Britain is now leading an alliance of countries committed to reform.
But a referendum on the constitution is not expected to take place until the spring of 2006. In the meantime, campaigning on Europe will just have to wait. Far from beating the drum about Europe, Mr Blair wants to concentrate on winning the general election expected next year, focusing on Labour's key battleground of public services.
Pro-Europeans are dismayed at how weak the call for engagement with Europe has become. They are worried by the recent strong showing by the UK Independence party (Ukip) which is committed to withdrawal from the EU and won 16 per cent of the vote in the European elections. They fear it may be impossible for a referendum to be won by those in favour of Europe.