Charlie Whelan says . . .

Don't believe it - "Hain wins battle over EU treaty"

Peter Hain may just be "Welsh Secretary" but Tony Blair's decision to let him look after the rest of Europe, too, will set his leadership ambitions as far back as Charlie Clarke's.

Hain has become desperate to defend the government's indefensible decision not to hold a referendum on the new European constitution. So much so, that he now expects us to believe that because it doesn't mention the "F" word, all is OK.

The ditching of the word "federal" is, according to him, proof that we are not heading for a European superstate. The truth is that the government has spent so much time pandering to the "Little Englander" world-view peddled by some sections of the media that it is now in no position to fight back. All it can do is argue that there won't be a referendum because big decisions should be taken at Westminster. Except they aren't. We are to hold a referendum on the euro; how does Hain explain that? Not very well. Does he really believe that we are to have this referendum because it's less important than the new EU constitution? Of course not.

We are having a euro referendum because way back in opposition, political reality forced Gordon Brown to announce this policy. He didn't want to have a referendum policy any more than he would want to share a pint with Peter Mandelson. No politician wants to give away his or her decision-making powers. We were offered referendums on whether we wanted a mayor, but that was only because Blair didn't give a stuff about them. Neither did the electorate, who showed what they thought by electing a monkey in Hartlepool - and I'm not talking about "H'Angus" the mascot mayor.

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