Friday, 20 June 2008

Hold on treaty until court rules

Update (15:53): Speaking on the BBC news channel, Stuart Wheeler has said that he would be "very likely" to appeal if judgement goes against him next week.

That would block the final step in Britain's ratification of the Lisbon Treaty for very likely some months to come.


The BBC reports that the High Court has expressed 'surprise' that ministers are pressing ahead with ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, despite judgement still pending in Stuart Wheeler's referendum case.

A direction from Lord Justice Richards, one of the judges hearing Mr Wheeler's case, has 'invited' the government to stay its hand in advance of the ruling.

The direction said: "The court is very surprised that the government apparently proposes to ratify while the claimant's challenge to the decision not to hold a referendum on ratification is before the court.

"The defendants are invited to stay their hand voluntarily until judgement."

In response, Gordon Brown has had to confirm that Britain will not ratify the treaty until the High Court has ruled, presumably meaning he will not yet send the 'instrument of ratification' to Rome - the final remaining stage in the process.

Judgement in the case is expected next week.

Does this mean, if Mr Wheeler chose to appeal a decision that went against him, our ratification could be in limbo for some months to come?

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