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Europe

No to Constitution Would Mean UK Exit from EU, Says Patten

Britain will have to leave the EU if it voted no in a referendum on the Constitution, according to British Commissioner Chris Patten.

In an interview with the Britain's Observer, the Chris Patten, who serves as external relations commissioner, said: "We've got to make up our mind whether we want to make a success of Europe or not. That's why I think that, if we ever get to this referendum, it's really going to be about whether we want to stay in. What's the point of being inside and endlessly and truculently making trouble? Is that really pursuing the national interest?" Asked specifically whether a no would mean Britain leaving the EU, Patten said: "I think as good as. I just think that psychologically we can't go on like this. It poisons political debate." His words follow British Premier Tony Blair's u-turn decision last week to hold a public poll on the Constitution after denying for months the need to have one. Blair's decision has sparked huge discussion and some criticism in the rest of Europe as Britain is one of the most ambivalent members of the EU and could reject the Constitution. It has also led to speculation about whether other large countries such as France may also have to follow suit and hold a referendum on the Constitution. The treaty blueprint, which is due to be finalised in June, has to be ratified by all 25 member states before it can come into force. (EUobserver.com)

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