Well, if you believe Times (and after last weeks episode with the Independent I believe no-one), le petit ‘non’, like its equivalent le petit mensonge, is not all that serious after all. According to the Times, Britain is working with other European states to draw up plans to keep the European Union constitution alive if there is a narrow ?non? vote in France next week. Just a soupcon of ‘no’ will, in the end ‘help the medicine go down’.
The British government, which takes over the EU presidency on July 1, is discussing with European partners the prospect that the treaty could survive a defeat in the French referendum.
Downing Street sources said they would work to keep the constitution alive during Britain?s six-month presidency if Jacques Chirac, the French president, agreed that a narrow no vote ? a ?petit non? ? was not fatal to the treaty.
A spokesman for the Luxembourg government, which currently holds the EU presidency, confirmed yesterday that its ministers were preparing a statement on pressing ahead with the constitution in the event of a narrow French defeat. ?There have been talks about the possibility,? the spokesman said.
French government sources also confirmed that the EU might be able to salvage the constitution if only two or three of the 25 member states rejected the treaty. They expressed hope that a better economic outlook in the next 15 months ? the deadline for countries to ratify the document ? could pave the way for a yes vote in a second referendum.