Labour MPs say no to referendum on EU

A majority of Labour MPs on Tuesday decided not to back calls for a second referendum on the European Union, making it almost certain that the approval of the new EU treaty will be left to parliament rather than the public at large.

It emerged during a three-hour meeting of Labour MPs that there was no majority in favour of a public vote, MP Mariëtte Hamer told news agency ANP. Only about three MPs were in favour, Hamer said.
The decision means there will not be a parliamentary majority to support a Socialist Party initiative for a referendum in defiance of the cabinet’s rejection of a public vote on the issue last week. The initiative is backed by GroenLinks, D66 and the anti-Islam party PVV. The free-market Liberals (VVD) have yet to decide whether or not to back the referendum plan.
Prime minister Jan Peter Balkenende says no vote is necessary because the new treaty is not a constitution. Christian Democrat and ChristenUnie MPs, who together with Labour make up the ruling coalition, are also against a referendum.
The Dutch and French voted against a EU constitution in 2005.
The decision comes a day after the PvdA elected aid charity director Lilianne Ploumen as its new chairwoman. Ploumen unexpectedly beat her more well-known rival, the former minister and left-winger Jan Pronk by winning 54% of the votes.
In a tv interview on Monday night, Ploumen said she would be ‘disappointed’ in Labour MPs decided against the referendum.

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