THE FINAL BETRAYAL; Suddenly the Threat of an All-Powerful EU Constitution Is Perilously Close. Here We Explain How Profoundly It Will Change Britain. Everyone Who Cares about This Country Should Read It

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SO YOU thought it was never going to happen. Last year, the Daily Mail organised an unprecedented national ballot on whether the Government should consult the British people in an official referendum over the proposed new European constitution.

Nearly 1.7 million of us voted, and nine out of ten demanded a say in our future.

Then last December, a European summit in December collapsed in disagreement and the whole issue seemed to have been kicked into the long grass. But now, after a change of government in Spain, and a new policy in Poland, it is firmly back on the agenda.

Today, Mr Blair is discussing it in Brussels. By June, he may have signed it on Britain's behalf. If he does, our country will change fundamentally and for ever.

It will create a new European state of which we will all be citizens. It will be able to sign treaties and join international bodies and its law will supersede our own. Britain will become a mere region within its federal embrace.

Here, the Mail gives a simple guide to how profoundly the Constitution will change our lives.

Criminal Justice

THE European Commission is to be handed control of a great chunk of the British criminal justice system. It can pass legislation for 'the approximation of the laws and regulations of the Member States'.

This will, for instance, allow Brussels to dictate 'minimum rules concerning the definition of criminal offences and sanctions in areas of particularly serious crime'.

Europe will be able to tell the British parliament what is or should be an offence in Britain, and how long criminals should be jailed for, over a wide range of crimes.

Britain will lose its veto on all legislation in this area and, in the past few days, the Government has climbed down on its previous opposition to this proposal.

To back up this power, the Constitution strengthens the powers of Eurojust - a sort of pan-European justice ministry - and allows for the creation of a European Public Prosecutors Office, with the ability to prosecute a wide variety of crimes in courts across Europe, including in Britain.

So we will lose control of who is prosecuted in our courts.

The Constitution also allows for a European law to set out 'common investigative techniques in relation to the detection of serious forms of organised crime'.

Our policemen are to be told how to catch criminals by penpushers in Brussels.

Employment and Social Policy

THE Constitution gives the Commission power to 'adopt measures to ensure coordination of the employment policies of the Member States', allowing it to undermine Britain's flexible and competitive labour market by establishing 'minimum standards for gradual implementation'.

Brussels also wins the power to dictate to governments how they should tackle 'social exclusion' and how we should go about 'modernising our social security system'.

Britain loses its veto over both these areas. This could mean massive increases in the number of people eligible for benefits.

The Constitution envisages the creation of European trade unions, banding together to fight employers.

British workers could end up going on strike in support of German union colleagues.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights - to be incorporated as a full legal part of the Constitution, despite Mr Blair's protestations to the contrary - will hand unspecified new powers to workers, as defined by the enthusiastically federal European Court. …