Referendum Protest greets EU Charter

Referendum protest

(Referendum Protest – I’m the one in the striped shirt)

Below is a press release on today’s Referendum Protest which I wanted to share with you:-

Wednesday saw the formal signing in Strasbourg of the EU’s “Charter of Fundamental Rights” by the heads of the European parliament, the European Council and the Commission.  But the formal occasion was overshadowed by a noisy demonstration by MEPs demanding a referendum for their constituents on the Renamed Constitution, due to be signed by Heads of Government in Lisbon on Thursday.
Around fifty MEPs, including the East Midlands Conservative Roger Helmer, had come to the Chamber wearing T-shirts bearing the word “REFERENDUM!”.  They were a cross-party group from many countries.
As the three heads of institutions sat down on ceremonial chairs in the centre of the Hemicycle for the signing, these MEPs rose to their feet and raised placards with the Referendum slogan.  And in four separate locations around the Chamber, they also raised ten-foot banners with the same word, in full view of the photographers and TV cameras assembled for the ceremony.  At the same time they started chanting the one word “Referendum!”.
The parliament’s ushers made sterling but courteous and well-mannered efforts to remove the banners and placards, without great success, and after a while the protest subsided and order was restored.  But as the main body of MEPs rose to applaud the signing, the protest and the chanting resumed, redoubling in volume as the European Union’s National Anthem was played.
After the protest, Helmer was challenged to say why he had sought to deny the speakers the right to be heard.  He replied that the 75% of the British people who want a referendum also had a right to be heard, and he had been articulating their demand.  He added that it was ironic for EU leaders to boast that the “Charter of Fundamental Rights” was guaranteeing freedom and democracy for European citizens, while member state governments elected on a promise of a referendum had broken their word.  “What sort of human rights do we have if we’re not even allowed to decide who governs us?” he asked.  He argued that the determination of the EU to press ahead with the Constitution in the teeth of public opinion shows a huge contempt for democracy and for the people.
In a speech immediately after the protest, a leading Liberal MEP said it had been like “The storming of the Reichstag”.  In response, Helmer quipped that the Brussels-based Fourth Reich was causing us nearly as much trouble as the Third one.
Helmer added “We MEPs demanding a referendum are in a minority in the parliament, but we represent a majority in many European member-states including the UK.  As a British Conservative, I am delighted that our Party policy is to demand a referendum, and I am proud to have raised the demands of East Midlands voters for a say on the treaty on this high-profile occasion”.

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22 Responses to Referendum Protest greets EU Charter

  1. Mike Johnson says:

    Great stuff – keep it up!!

  2. O Zangado says:

    Congratulations on voicing the objections of the majority of the UK population. From tiny acorns….?

  3. Adrian Owens says:

    Well done Roger. Can you tell us which of your Conservative MEP colleagues joined you in this protest?

  4. S Ellis says:

    I echo the above comments – such an action is long overdue and welcomed with relief that at last someone will make our voices heard. Please don’t stop – we need you!

  5. John Smith says:

    You actually compared the world’s brightest hope for peace and democacy to one of the worst totaliatian dictatorships the world has ever known?

    It takes a special kind of pyschofreak to complain that his rights are being subjagated in the face of the lack of legal force of a document that he among others insisted not have legal force. Typical incoherent petty ranting little-‘england’ism. I’m ashamed to share an island with you, yet delighted that you have yet to destroy my country. (Hint: It has an Eastern border with Russia and a Southern sea border with Africa)

  6. Mike Stallard says:

    Roger – you are an example to us all. Thank you for truly representing the people who elected you to the European “Parliament”.

  7. Roger Helmer says:

    John Smith: If the EU is “the world’s brightest hope for peace and democracy”, then we should all run to the hills gibbering with terror. The EU is making us poorer, and less democratic, and less free. It is not merely undemocratic. It is anti-democratic. Look no further than its determination to force through the Renamed Constitution in the teeth of public reistsance.

    As for being a “Little Englander”, you may like to note that for 30+ years before I got into politics I worked in major international businesses in the UK, the USA, Europe and South East Asia, and was resident for twelve years in various Eastern countries. That makes me about as international as you can get. I am a committed free-trader, and one of my key objections to the EU is that it is inward-looking, self-referential and protectionist, and hopelessly ill-equipped to face global competition.

    As the Norwegian NO Campaign famously said, “Europe is too small for us”.

  8. Malcolm Edward says:

    Good to see the true representatives in the EU standing up for their electorates.
    Well done Roger.
    Lets hope the message about how antidemocratic the pro-EU sect is gets heard far and wide.

  9. John Smith says:

    For starters, referenda have never been the way these things are done. It is, in the words of top Tory Tristan Garell-Jones, “an abrogation of responsibility”.

    Secondly, any campaign would be hopelessly ill-informed, led by the well funded vested interests in the radical right mainstream press.

    Thirdly, the chances that people would pose the question asked are practically non-existent. (See France, where all the anecdotal evidence suggest that the answer was “No, we don’t want Turkey to be a member”.

    Fourthly, if the people do vote “no”, what does that mean? “No, this fails to transfer sufficient powers to the continental authorities”? You’ve got no way of proving otherwise.

    Fifthly, I agree to a partial extent, the EU does have insufficient democracy. I trust then that you will push for a new treaty in which we, the people, get to elect the Commission?
    No? Why not?

    The Union is the biggest economy in the world. We can’t look outwards properly until we’ve got things working inside. We are building an “ever closer union”, not stopping here.

    The really strange thing is that we seem to share goals, you simply take actions that will destroy them. I want more democracy, so do you. Please call for the executive to be elected. You think it isn’t big enough, so do I. Stop calling for it to stop here, demand further expansion.

    Go on. Make your actions reflect your words.

  10. Englishman Abroad says:

    Finally, a politician who actually cares about and represents the people that elected him. A rare breed indeed.

    Well done, Sir.

  11. Roger Helmer says:

    John Smith: delightful to watch you wriggle to justify denying the people a say! To take just one point: in a parliamentary democracy, where the sovereignty of the people is returned to them via the ballot box within five years, there is little case for referenda (although this Labour government has had many referenda). But where powers are to be given away in perpetuity, and contrary to the current government’s clear manifesto commitment, a specific mandate is required from the people.

    It is a myth to suggest that you could make the EU democratic just by electing the Commission. Legitimate democracy requires a people who share enough in common in terms of history, culture, language and economic interests, that they are prepared to accept governance at each others’ hands. This does not apply in the EU. Across the EU’s 27 diverse member-states, the common public opinion necessary for representative government cannot, and does not, exist.

    The EU is undermining freedom and democracy. I shall certainly not call for its expansion, and for the further dilution of our influence.

  12. Rod Sellers says:

    On this very day 430 years ago Sir Francis Drake set out to circumnavigate the globe and lay the foundations of a freetrading, entrepenurial Britain. At least Roger and other genuine representatives of the people have tried to protest at becoming further enmeshed in a corrupt, backward looking, anti democratic tyranny. Even signing away our hard won freedom has been done in a skulking, furtive way by a morose scotsman. Talk about ending with a whimper ! Well done Roger. We should all take to the streets.

  13. Ralf Grahn says:

    The EU Charter of Fundamental Rights is popular among citizens of the European Union. Many feel sorry for the Brits and Poles, whose governments opted out.

    Loutish behaviour deserves no praise.

  14. I can’t speak for Roger, but I would hardly call asking for a Referndum “loutish behavior” In fact surely pushing things through without giving the people a say is much more akin to being loutish!

  15. Jane Cadet says:

    Well done. They like talking about democracy in abstract but not in detail.

    They don’t like it up ’em.

    This treaty: NOT IN MY NAME.

  16. Very well done and well said Roger! If it looks like a fascist state, sounds like a facist state -well then…

  17. Roger Price says:

    It must be hard swimming against the tide, but well done Roger. Keep up the good work.

  18. Rod Sellers says:

    John Smith ( if that’s your real name) If you are so convinced that your countrymen/women are with you on this, why do you have a problem with a referendum. If you are driven by simple ideology – then, like Mussolini, you should be directed to the nearest lampost.

  19. Faced with European Institutions that show towering contempt for the views of the voters; with an EU that refuses to listen; with governments that promise referenda then break their word — how else should we register our protest? Labour members said we were hooligans. I say we were (and are) Freedom Fighters.

  20. Richard Hyslop says:


    Well done for making a stand on the floor of the European Parliament, it is a shame that so few other MEPs joined you. Out of interest how many other UK Conservative MEPs actually took part in your protest?

    Keep up the good work!

  21. Ian says:

    I’ve only just heard about this and I follow current events fairly closely. I’d have thought such a protest by MEPs would have had a higher media profile. There couldn’t be some kind of supression going on could there ?

    Also, a referendum on the treaty would probably be treated like a referendum on EU membership in the UK. I’m quite sure the government daren’t open that can of worms.

  22. Thanks Ian. We got a good photo in the Daily Mail, and some comment in the Guardian. Amazingly, the BBC didn’t mention it! And the best media censorship story yet: the parliament’s media service dubbed-in a recording of the “European National Anthem” over their video of the signing ceremony, because their actual recording included our “Referendum” chant!

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