Byline: SIMON HEFFER
THE new European constitution which will transform Britain's relationship with the EU was dismissed yesterday as a mere 'tidying-up exercise' by the Cabinet's key EU strategist, writes Political Editor David Hughes.
Welsh Secretary Peter Hain ruled out any prospect of a referendum on the issue which would see Britain swallowed into a United States of Europe. In an interview with the BBC's John Humphrys, he claimed that the document had no constitutional significance for the British people.
The new treaty was 'no more or less significant' than other EU treaty changes over the past 30 years, none of which have been subject to a referendum.
Mr Hain brushed aside the fact that France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Italy, Holland, Denmark and Ireland plan to hold referenda.
He said: 'You have referenda on big sovereignty issues . . . this is more of a tidying-up exercise.' Yet, in response to 15 questions tabled by the Mail (see right), which last week launched a campaign for a referendum on the new constitution, Mr Hain admitted that it would mean the wholesale abandonment of the UK veto; the appointment of a new President of Europe and the creation of a new Foreign Minister for Europe.
Just how draconian will the new powers be? The Mail asked SIMON HEFFER, who lives in Essex, to imagine living in 2010 as a citizen of the newly created United States of Europe. Although his account is fictitious, every law and regulation is a genuine part of the new European constitution.
EVEN now, I still can't get used to the fact that my postal address ends 'Eastern Region, Province of England, United States of Europe'.
It symbolises nicely what we have lost since that ghastly day just before the 2005 General Election when Tony Blair used the Parliament Acts to overturn the House of Lords's rejection of the European constitution.
The peers, like many MPs in the Commons, were appalled that Britain's independence and centuries of history should be signed away using Labour's massive majority.
There was no referendum: Blair knew he could never win one. Even though the final surrender sovereignty had not figured Labour's election manifesto, it was steamrollered through and 1,000 years of self-determination were an end.
The change of name to 'Province of …