EU constitution has been killed, says Kinnock

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France's "no" vote in Sunday's referendum has killed off the EU constitution, according to the former European commissioner Lord Kinnock.

France's "no" vote in Sunday's referendum has killed off the EU constitution, according to the former European commissioner Lord Kinnock.

Yesterday's comments from the former Labour Party leader revealed the mood within the Government, as a spokesman for Tony Blair's office repeated the Prime Minister's call for a "period of reflection" on the referendum result.

Lord Kinnock said: "I understand why they emphasise the need for a period of reflection. That there has to be - but the reflection can sensibly only come to one conclusion especially when one government or more governments are mandated to veto the treaty."

He was "utterly disgusted" with the French left for organising against the treaty to punish President Jacques Chirac - and for aligning themselves "with some of the most fundamentally reactionary and disgusting elements in French political society".

Lord Kinnock added that pushing on with the constitution risked a backlash. "Anyone who seeks to escape from it will simply emphasise the false claims from some of the 'no' sections that Europe isn't listening," he warned.

"Referendums produce results and results have got to be lived with."

However, the French rejection of the constitution could benefit London's bid for the 2012 Olympics. Sources behind the bid claimed the "no" vote - and the damage it had inflicted upon M. Chirac's political credibility - had damaged France's bid to host the Olympics.

Sports leaders in Britain said the Government had kept ministers at arms' length from London's Olympic bid, after learning the lessons from criticism surrounding the Millennium Dome and the Wembley redevelopment.

But the French President has given the political lead to his country's bid for the Olympics in 2012. He was expected to join the bidding team for the final presentation to the International Olympic Committee on 6 July in Singapore.

"We don't want to gloat, but the damage done to Chirac will not have helped their bid," said a UK bid member. One senior source at the Foreign Office said M. Chirac was "finished".

The French are narrow favourites over the London bid, but the fall-out may tip the balance. The French will make their presentation first in Singapore and the UK will be fourth out of six presentations. Tony Blair will go to give his support, but returns home before the UK bid is made to host the G8 summit in Gleneagles.

Lord Kinnock echoed the private thoughts of ministers, who cannot speak out before today's referendum in the Netherlands.

Downing Street confirmed the report in The Independent yesterday that Mr Blair was preparing for a bruising battle with M. Chirac over the EU's future.

The spokesman said Britain would use its presidency, which begins on 1 July, to argue for further economic reforms to better prepare Europe to meet competition from China and the Far East.

Mr Blair and the Chancellor Gordon Brown believe that European leaders should push ahead with free-market economic reforms, regardless of progress towards a new constitution.

Sir John Major, the Conservative former prime minister, said there was no point organising a British referendum on the constitution if it was "determined to be dead".

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