Ministers pledge to fight growing calls for EU treaty referendum

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Indy Politics

Ministers, including David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, are set to come out fighting this week against growing demands for a EU treaty referendum.

Government sources say that a string of ministers will "make it clear" that the Government has a mandate for the new reform treaty, given at the European Council in June. The Government came under growing pressure last week to refuse to rule out a referendum. But the Prime Minister is expected to firmly rule out a referendum later this week.

The move follows intense pressure on Gordon Brown from members of his own party. A campaign led by the Labour MP Ian Davidson, who said that up to a third of Labour MPs could back calls for an EU treaty, was joined by the former Europe minister, Keith Vaz, on Friday. He said: "We should not be afraid of actually putting this argument before the British people. We don't need a referendum on the reformed treaty because we didn't have one on the Nice Treaty or on Maastricht. But I think there's a difference between need and desirability.

"I think once and for all we need to put this behind us by putting it to the British people. I am absolutely convinced that we will win any test of public opinion as to whether or not the British people want us in Europe."