Opposition Conservatives challenge UK's Brown on EU

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LONDON, Oct 22 (Reuters) Britain's opposition Conservatives accused British Prime Minister Gordon Brown today of betraying people's trust by refusing to call a referendum on a new European Union treaty.

Brown came to parliament to defend his government's strategy in negotiations on the new treaty, which ended in agreement at an EU summit in Lisbon on Friday.

He stressed the exemptions Britain had won from the treaty and insisted that London had given away few new powers to Brussels.

But he ran into a barrage of hostility from Conservative leader David Cameron, who attacked Brown's refusal to give Britons a vote on the new treaty.

Cameron said the new treaty removed Britain's right to veto EU legislation in 60 areas, including energy, transport and self-employment law.

''I have got a motto for him: Let the People Decide,'' Cameron told Brown in heated exchanges in the House of Commons.

He accused Brown of ''betraying people's trust'' by refusing a referendum now when his predecessor, Tony Blair, had promised during the 2005 election campaign to give Britons a say on the now defunct EU constitution.

Brown's government argues the new treaty is far less ambitious than the constitution, which was scrapped after being rejected by Dutch and French voters and no referendum is required in Britain.

Instead, the government will ask the British parliament to ratify the treaty next year.

Brown said that now the treaty was agreed, his government would oppose any further institutional changes in the EU for the remainder of this government's term and the next -- or until 2015 at the latest.

He said the British parliament would have to give its approval before the government would agree to any further extension of areas of EU legislation where decisions are taken by majority rather than unanimity.

Reuters AK VP0044

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