‘Did the Prime Minister read the European Union Treaty document that he has just signed in Portugal, before he signed it?’
Still waiting for a public and on record answer>
• If the Prime Minister read the document before he signed it, he is a traitor and is in grotesque breach of his oath of loyalty to the British Head of State, HM The Queen.
• If the Prime Minister did not read the document before he signed it, he is in dereliction of his duty to defend the interests of the British people and the Monarchy, is grossly incompetent, and should be impeached.
• If the question could not be answered, the correct and honest answer should have been:
‘We cannot answer your question’.
Obviously, officials decided that their safest course would be not to respond at all, so that (a) they cannot be accused of deception and lying, and (b) the matter is conveniently left up in the air.
That is dishonest, small-minded, scandalous and reprehensible.
Originally called the Reform Treaty, it was drawn up to replace the draft European constitution after that was thrown out by voters in France and the Netherlands in 2005.
All 27 EU countries will be expected to ratify the Treaty in 2008 with a view to it coming into force in 2009.
How similar will the new treaty be to the draft constitution?
It contains many of the changes the constitution attempted to introduce, for example:
* A politician chosen to be president of the European Council for two-and-a-half years, replacing the current system where countries take turns at being president for six months
* A new post combining the jobs of the existing foreign affairs supremo, Javier Solana, and the external affairs commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, to give the EU more clout on the world stage
* A smaller European Commission, with fewer commissioners than there are member states, from 2014
* A redistribution of voting weights between the member states, phased in between 2014 and 2017
* New powers for the European Commission, European Parliament and European Court of Justice, for example in the field of justice and home affairs
* Removal of national vetoes in a number of areas
Most European leaders acknowledge that the main substance of the constitution will be preserved.
Reform Treaty in detail
If it contains the same substance, why is the Lisbon Treaty not a constitution?
The constitution attempted to replace all earlier EU treaties and start afresh, whereas the new treaty amends the Treaty on the European Union (Maastricht) and the Treaty Establishing the European Community (Rome).
It also drops all reference to the symbols of the EU - the flag, the anthem and the motto - though these will continue to exist.
How long has it taken to agree the treaty?
The effort to draft a constitution began in February 2002 and took two-and-a-half years, but that text became obsolete when it was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005.
Work began in earnest on a replacement treaty during the German EU presidency, in the first half of 2007, and agreement on the main points of the new treaty was reached at a summit in June.
Negotiations continued behind the scenes over the following months before a final draft was agreed by the leaders of the 27 member states in October.
Why was the constitution dropped?
France and the Netherlands said they would be unable to adopt the constitutional treaty without significant changes, following the 2005 referendums.
The UK also pressed hard for a modest "amending treaty", which could be ratified by means of a parliamentary vote, like earlier EU treaties.
Could the Lisbon Treaty also end up being rejected?