Brown flies to Brussels to discuss treaty crisis

Mr Brown is in Brussels today
Mr Brown is in Brussels today

Gordon Brown is flying to Brussels today for a crisis meeting of European leaders after Ireland's rejection of the Lisbon treaty.

Irish leaders will have an opportunity to discuss how to proceed with their European colleagues in an official setting for the first time since the vote, but a Downing Street spokesperson refused to say what the prime minister expected to happen.

Mr Brown flew to the European Council meeting with criticism of the government's handling of the situation still ringing in his ears.

Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, told "They just don't realise that when people are given a chance to say something, they mean it. And in this case they meant no."

Asked what how he would advise the prime minister, Mr Farage said: "Do a U turn. You say you listen. Try following your own advice."

The Conservatives are urging the government to put a halt to all preparatory work on implementing the treaty.

"Carrying that on would not simply be disrespectful to Irish voters, it would mean completely ignoring it," said William Hague, shadow foreign secretary.

"Pushing on with ratification would not only be undemocratic, it would not only be the opposite of respecting the Irish 'no', it would not only allow the Irish people to be isolated and bullied, it would be a foolish abdication from a strong position to put forward Britain's national interest.

Speaking to reporters today with the head of the European commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Irish prime minister Brian Cowen said: "We're here to conduct serious business.

"The decision [Irish no vote] has been respected, will be respected."

Mr Cowen said he would ensure Ireland "can continue to play its role here in the European Union in the way the Irish people would expect".


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