The call for a referendum on the new EU treaty really does get some people extremely animated. I don't think that it is all that difficult to put forward a cogent argument as to why Britain does NOT need to hold a referendum on the proposed new EU treaty. Here goes:
1. The reform treaty's most significant innovations - for example reducing the role of the rotating presidency and the merger posts of EU High Representative and the Commissioner for external relations - are sensible pieces of 'housekeeping.'
2. Compared to earlier EU treaties, such as the Single European Act and the Maastricht treaty, the new reform treaty does not shift significant powers from the member states to the EU itself.
3. The form of the new document - an amending treaty - is different from its predecessor, which consolidated all previous treaties into one text, with constitutional trappings.
4. The UK government has negotiated special provisions that include de facto opt-outs from important provisions on justice and home affairs, social policy and the Charter of Fundamental Rights.
What is clear beyond any doubt is that if for some strange reason Brown did grant a referendum, he would look hopelessly weak for giving into a tabloid frenzy and the government would almost certainly lose it. This would have the effect of bolstering the Tories even further and would, in effect, mean that the new EU treaty would become the longest suicide note in history - much longer than the Labour manifesto of 1983!