Britain could become 'prisoner'
of the EU
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
A tough secession clause in the new European
constitution would make it illegal for Britain to leave the European
Union without permission.
Article 46 of the secret draft text, obtained by The
Telegraph, says the terms of departure for any country wanting to
leave must be approved by two thirds of member states.
The draft is to be presented this week to the
105-strong Convention on the Future of Europe by the praesidium,
headed by the former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing. It
is releasing the Europe's first constitution piece by piece over the
next few months.
The text - still subject to last-minute changes today
- would allow a minority bloc of states to impose conditions,
offering no guarantee that a departing country could keep its
trading rights or reclaim currency reserves held by the European
David Heathcoat-Amory, a Tory MP on the convention,
called the text outrageous. "It's a prison clause, not a secession
clause," he said.
"We thought we could repeal the 1972 European
Communities Act if the worst came to the worst, but this shows we're
no longer talking about a voluntary union you can leave whenever you
"It is the final extinction of parliamentary
Mr Heathcoat-Amory said the two European
commissioners on the praesidium, France's Michel Barnier and
Portugal's Antonio Vitorino, had pushed through a highly
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