Judge orders treaty delay

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The Independent Online

Britain's approval of the EU's Lisbon Treaty suffered a last-minute hitch when a High Court judge ordered the Government to delay ratification.

Ministers were rebuked by Lord Justice Richards, who said he was "very surprised" they were pressing ahead before he gave his judgment in a case brought by the Eurosceptic millionaire Stuart Wheeler. He is challenging the Government's decision to refuse a referendum on the treaty after promising one on its forerunner, the proposed EU constitution.

The judge's remarks were embarrassing for Gordon Brown, who was showered with praise from EU leaders at their Brussels summit after going ahead with the Bill to implement the treaty, despite last week's "no" vote in the Irish referendum. The Bill received royal assent on Thursday but the treaty will not be ratified until documents are deposited in Rome – a process that is on hold but which must be done before the end of December.

Mr Brown said: "The judgment fits into our own timetable, so ratification will not take place until we have had the judgment."