Cameron rejects calls to commit to Lisbon treaty referendum

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Indy Politics

David Cameron today rejected calls by Tory Eurosceptics to commit to a referendum on the controversial Lisbon Treaty even if it has been ratified by the rest of the EU.

After yesterday's Yes vote in the Irish referendum on the treaty removed a major obstacle to full ratification, the Tory leader was coming under renewed pressure to explain what he would do if it has been fully implemented by the time a Conservative government came to power.

But as activists gathered in Manchester for the start tomorrow of the party's annual conference, he insisted that he did not want to speculate as long as the two remaining member states - Poland and the Czech Republic - had yet to ratify.

"I don't want to say anything or do anything now that would undermine or prejudice what is happening in other countries where they are still debating whether to ratify this treaty. That is a very sensible thing to do," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr show.

"There were three countries that it hadn't been ratified in - Ireland, the Czech Republic and Poland. There are now two so I don't see any reason to change our approach because one of those has decided to ratify.

"I think people will understand this argument that while there are other countries actually delaying the implementation of this treaty, don't do anything or say anything that stops them from doing that."

Foreign Secretary David Miliband seized on comments by London Mayor Boris Johnson to claim that the Tories were split on Europe.

Mr Johnson told The Sunday Times that the prospect of Tony Blair becoming the new EU president under the terms of the Lisbon Treaty, underlined the need for a referendum, even if it had been ratified.

"If we are faced with the prospect of Tony Blair suddenly emerging, suddenly pupating into an intergalactic spokesman for Europe, then I think the British people deserve a say," he said.

"I do think it would be right for such a debate to be held, particularly if the upshot of the Lisbon Treaty is going to produce President Blair."

Mr Miliband said: "Boris Johnson's comments show that the Tories are split right to the top on Europe."