Benn backs Sinn Féin call to reject Lisbon

ONE of Britain’s longest- serving politicians yesterday backed Sinn Féin’s call to reject the Lisbon treaty, arguing that a yes vote would give Europe more control over Ireland than the English ever held.

Tony Benn, the British Labour party’s second longest serving member of parliament, said a yes vote would turn Europe into a federal state and could ultimately lead to violence in later years among an angry electorate.

“I’m not coming to tell anyone in the republic which way to vote, but you have more rights on the Lisbon treaty than we have. My party leader [Gordon] Brown won’t allow the British people to decide,” said the socialist activist.

Meeting Sinn Féin strategists in Dublin yesterday, he was also attending discussions at college campuses with students. Mr Benn was a British cabinet minister in the 1960s and 1970s.

The long-time Labour MP, who retired in 2001 after 50 years in parliament, argued the EU treaty would remove rights not only for workers, but the ordinary voter at the ballot box.

“Maybe they’ll want to have an army, there’ll be a president you won’t elect, there’ll be a foreign minister you won’t elect.

“The control that Brussels would exercise over the public is probably greater than the British empire exercised over Ireland when we ran the place,” he said.

The treaty would abolish 60 separate vetoes held in the 27 member states, he told the Irish Examiner.

Challenging comments made by European Affairs Minister Dick Roche, the former candidate for British Labour party deputy leader said the treaty was a “direct threat to democracy”.

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