Blair returns to EU wait and see
"What is important now is having a time for reflection with the Dutch referendum in a couple of days' time and the European council in the middle of June where the leaders will discuss the implications of the votes that have taken place."They certainly need to work out a fresh strategy. If, to keep the rest of Europe happy, Britain has to hold a pointless referendum of its own, let's get the bloody thing out of the way quickly to save time and money which would otherwise be sluiced off by a protracted campaign.
There was never any real hope of winning it in the UK. That was the whole reason for Blair delaying the referendum so damn long, hoping we'd be guilt-tripped into ratifying it if every other member state had already said yes or - probably in his most hopeful and unrealistic moments - that the debate in Britain would be so involving that the British public would be able to make an informed choice. And an informed choice, naturally, would be to vote Yes in spite of the treaty's flaws simply because it's better than what we've got at the moment.
But now that someone else has pipped us to the post and punched a 10% margin hole in the side of the constitutional boat (and the Netherlands will vote "Nee" in two days to boot) there is less than no point in waiting until September 2006 - just as there is, really, less than no point in having any more referendums at all. If they insist on persevering with the ratification process - for which I can understand the reasoning from a purely PR point of view - then they should get it over with sooner rather than later so that the real debate can begin: what now?
At least Blair's managed to avoid the hyperbole of some on the French Yes campaign, like chief strategist Dominique Moisi: "This is a turning point in the history of Europe -- there will be a Plan B in the technocratic sense, in that Europe will continue to function and exist, but psychologically it will cease to exist in the same way."
But still, Christ - you can see why they're taking this badly: