'No' vote would be serious, says Blair

Last updated at 09:23 23 April 2004

Prime Minister Tony Blair today acknowledged he would face "serious" consequences if he lost the referendum on the proposed European Constitution.

At his monthly televised press conference from Downing Street, he conceded: "It would certainly be serious, wouldn't it, to lose it.

"It would be a serious situation for the country, and of course for the Government and Prime Minister.

"But I think you will understand why I am not going to speculate on losing it at the present time."

Mr Blair continued: "I have not changed my position on Britain's place in Europe, which I think has to be at the centre of Europe, I have not changed my position on the constitutional treaty, I think a treaty embodying the basic rules of the EU is important and right for Europe.

"What I have changed is my view that you can take this process forward without having an open, genuine debate with the people.

"If you believe in what you are doing and I do believe in it, and you believe in Britain's central place in Europe, it is time to make that argument. We haven't succeeded in that argument and we are going to have to put it up to the people and accept their verdict."

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