EU treaty clears Commons vote

The EU treaty moved a step closer to ratification last night when it cleared its major hurdle of the House of Commons.

MPs approved the EU amendment bill, which will bring the treaty into law, by 346 votes to 206.

After last week’s tussle over the need for a referendum, which the Conservatives claim was promised by all the main parties in their election manifestos, the foreign secretary told MPs it was now time to debate whether to pass the treaty into law.

David Miliband said every major political party in Europe recognised the treaty would be good for Britain and good for Europe.

He accused the Tories of standing alone as the only major party in Europe to oppose the treaty and branded their “scaremongering” over its contents as “dangerous and deluded”.

Shadow foreign secretary Wiliam Hague argued the treaty would hand an “unwarranted power” to the EU and accused ministers of “ramming through” the bill.

The Conservatives hope the House of Lords will introduce a referendum amendment to the bill.

Mr Hague said the lack of a public vote had been a “clear breach” of Labour’s election promise and there was now no “democratic mandate” for the treaty.

But the Liberal Democrats accused the Conservatives of misunderstanding the treaty, including the number of safeguards for member states’ sovereignty.

Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman Ed Davey said the treaty was “sensible and modest”, pointing to allowances such as member states’ right to leave the EU and to halt European legislation.

It was a treaty which “genuine Eurosceptics should be coming to praise – not to bury,” he said.

“The fact that they don’t now back these reforms that they used to call for reflects the reality that the vast majority of Eurosceptics aren’t genuinely sceptical but actually are closed minded and pre-determined in their opposition in everything European,” he added.

Opening the debate, Mr Miliband told MPs the treaty was focused on reforming the EU’s institutions, which would “allow us to move on to the agenda of prosperity and development and climate change”.