Cabinet puts pressure on Blair over EU vote

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Indy Politics

Tony Blair is under growing pressure from within his own Cabinet to call a referendum on the new EU constitution amid signs he may be softening his opposition to opening up a national debate on Britain's role in Europe.

In what would be a serious U-turn for the Prime Minister, proposals have been discussed "at Cabinet level" on allowing the public to have a say on the constitution and Britain's future place in Europe. Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, and Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, are among several ministers who have been urging Mr Blair to drop his opposition to a referendum.

They believe a rethink would allow the Government to confront the Tories and argue that Britain has been influential in bringing about positive change in Brussels.

Mr Blair has made it clear he does not support a referendum but several members of the Cabinet believe it sends out the wrong message to refuse point-blank to consider one.