Hurd upsets Danes on treaty: Threat of isolation if referendum next month rejects Maastricht

DOUGLAS HURD yesterday threw a hand-grenade into the Danish referendum on the Maastricht treaty on 18 May by threatening Denmark with isolation if it voted 'no' again and hinting that Britain might join any attempt to renegotiate the deal.

His comments sweep the ground from under the feet of the 'no' campaign for the referendum, and they will infuriate the treaty's opponents in Britain and Denmark, who have worked together very closely. But they are in line with the Prime Minister's new more assertive stand on Europe, and reflect opinion that the battle for the treaty is largely won in Britain.

Support for the treaty in Denmark had been on the wane, though it had hardened slightly in the past few days. The Foreign Secretary had said earlier that if the treaty was rejected in Denmark, then it would fail, and Britain would not take part in any alternative arrangement. That had been a centrepiece of the 'no' campaign: if Denmark rejected the treaty, it would not be ostracised and would not be left on its own if others proceeded with a new treaty.

But after a meeting of foreign ministers at Hindsgavl castle yesterday, Mr Hurd, who had been asked if his previous comments still stood, said: 'I am not saying that we would not take part in any alternative arrangements.'

He also said 'there would be a crisis' over Denmark's membership in the Community. Fears that Denmark would be kicked out or marginalised in the EC have been important in spurring support for the 'yes' campaign. His comments astounded Danish journalists. Mr Hurd said that since the treaty was a treaty of 12, it would fail if rejected by the Danes. But he added that there would then be discussion among the 12 about how to proceed, 'an open field'.

There has been much speculation that the other 10 would proceed with economic and monetary union if either Britain or Denmark, or both, fell by the wayside. Mr Hurd's comments will add to pressure for a 'yes' vote and reflect increasing confidence that the parliamentary battle for the treaty is won.

That confidence was underlined at the weekend by Tristan Garel-Jones, the Foreign Office minister, who said Conservative sights should be trained on the 1996 summit. 'What we must do now is start setting out our stall for 1996 and begin working out within the Conservative Party our agenda for Europe through to the year 2000. We have strong allies now in France, Germany, Portugal and Denmark. For the first time, Britain can shape rather than brake Europe's development.'

The Social Democrats, who head the Danish government, had called in Philip Gould, a former adviser to both the Labour Party and Bill Clinton, to address the party this week. This is partly in response to the very high profile of British opponents of the treaty. Last week, Tony Benn starred at a meeting of the 'no' campaign, and Lord Tebbit, Michael Spicer and others have all made appearances.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
health
News
Jay Z
businessJay-Z's bid for Spotify rival could be blocked
News
The spider makes its break for freedom
VIDEO
Voices
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
books
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical and Electrical Engineer

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of refrig...

Recruitment Genius: Concierge and Porter

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a customer focused, pro...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Customer Support Technician

£15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Waterlooville based softwa...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot