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Europe

Blair to Decide on EU Constitution Referendum

UK prime minister Tony Blair is set to announce this week, maybe as early as Monday, that Britain will hold a referendum on the European Constitution.

Blair has previously rejected holding a public poll on the Constitution, which is due to be agreed by 18 June, saying that it was unnecessary. However, in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Today program over the weekend, Blair indicated that the change in the opposition Conservative party's position may mean a poll will be held. "The thing that has changed recently is a radical change in the Conservative position, which is no longer to say they don't support this constitutional treaty, but they would re-negotiate it if it was passed." He was then asked if that meant there would now be a referendum. "You will have to wait and see what occurs on any of this", he replied. The Conservatives plan to make their demand for a referendum a key part of their European elections campaign. The Liberal Democrats also support a referendum but, in contrast to the Conservatives, would like people to endorse the Constitution. On top of this some of the most senior ministers in the UK government are believed to support putting it to a public vote - among them Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, Chancellor Gordon Brown, Home Secretary David Blunkett and Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. So far, several countries, including Ireland, Denmark, Portugal, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, are set to have referendums. (EUobserver.com)

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