British campaigners deflated in EU summit protest

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LISBON, Oct 18 (Reuters) British campaigners for a referendum on the European Union's reform treaty were left deflated today when a protest stunt came to grief outside an EU summit.

The cross-party ''I want a Referendum'' movement had planned to inflate a giant ballot box in front of the summit venue, the Pavilhao Atlantico, as a symbol of their crusade for a public vote on the new treaty, due to be approved by EU leaders.

But security men moved them away to another location, and they could not pump enough air to get the object to take shape.

''What happened with our inflatable ballot box was that, first of all, we had an agreement to inflate it relatively near the venue of the summit, but they changed their minds, so we had to move it,'' campaign chairman Derek Scott told Reuters.

''More importantly, the generator we hired here wasn't powerful enough.'' They finally succeeded in inflating the object a couple of hours later after bringing in a new generator.

The campaigners say Britain should hold a referendum that the government promised on the defunct European constitution since the treaty contains all the same major provisions to reform the 27-nation bloc's institutions.

''The British government seems not to want a row. They want to go home and say, 'We've got all we wanted, this is a different treaty and there's no need for a referendum'. They're playing deliberately that way'', Scott said.

REUTERS SKB PM1945

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