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Not captured for posterity...

Nick Robinson | 12:19 UK time, Tuesday, 11 December 2007

The cameras will not record the moment that Gordon Brown signs the EU Constitution treaty.

The prime minister will travel to Lisbon this Thursday where other EU leaders will sign the European Union Reform Treaty but, tragically (sic), he will arrive too late for the signing ceremony. Mr Brown will be delayed in London by his appearance before select committee chairmen in the Commons and so will arrive only in time for lunch. Downing Street made clear today that he will sign the treaty then but, tragically (sic), the cameras will not record the moment for posterity.


  • 1.
  • At 01:03 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Justin wrote:

As long as he signs it in the end, what does it matter? We socialists don't go in for all this ceremony stuff.

Not having the cameras there benefits the Tories anyway because if they win the next election they could always argue that Gord's signature has been forged. - "where's the proof that it was him signing it?"

  • 2.
  • At 01:05 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Krishn Shah wrote:

The newspapers and the BBC website should publish a picture of the PM signing something e.g at the Treasury with the headline "Prime Minister signs EU Treaty". That would teach him not to insult our intelligence.

  • 3.
  • At 01:39 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:


I suspect that Gordon Brown operates on the assumption that if the media don't have pictures to go with their report, then it will fall down the agenda and, perhaps, the public will within the next two years forget that there ever was a constitution / Treaty signed by the British. At the very least, some will assume that this signifies that the document is of little importance.

How can journalists like yourself address this behaviour and the ensuing misunderstanding? Will anyone in the BBC put the ceremony and the implications for the UK at the top of the news? Will you put Brown under the spotlight at the next opportunity? Let us hope so, or otherwise this particular blog item is rather pointless.

  • 4.
  • At 01:42 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Tony Wicks wrote:

So Justin as socialits you don't go in for any of this ceremony stuff, you just prefer to do things underhand behind closed doors. I hope GB does know he has to sign at the end - after all he was not educated under the governments he has represented as Chancellor and PM. Although he apparently doesn't have the intelect of many of his european collegues who can read and understand a Constitution when they read it.

  • 5.
  • At 01:45 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Steve Baker wrote:

Justin says it all: "We socialists".

Democratic socialism, without the democracy, is just plain old discredited socialism, all over again.

Poverty and tyranny: here we come.

  • 6.
  • At 01:53 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Dan wrote:

comment in regard to quote above:"We socialists don't go in for all this ceremony stuff." Funny, I thought ceremonies were about presenting the transparrant-don't you socialists think that a little transparancy and ceremony are required to give the public confidence? Or is it trust in ol uncle Stalin-and hey comrades you will be fine-signing up for what- who cares-stamp it with a hammer and ccycle-were all the same!

  • 7.
  • At 02:01 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Max Sceptic wrote:

McCavity Brown's intended absence from the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon (aka the Constitutional Treaty with cosmetic tweaks) is typical. As usual, he believes that by not being present when the excrement hits the ventilator, we won't remember who flung it in the first place.

Funnily enough, Brown doesn't realise that he would accrue himself immense political credit if he just did what his party promised to do: put the Treaty to a referendum. But writing about courage and acting with courage are two different things.

  • 8.
  • At 02:06 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • antonis kamaras wrote:

a portrait in cowardice?

  • 9.
  • At 02:07 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

In his curious mind he probably thinks that if he isn't pictured signing the text, we, the people who he has betrayed by refusing the referendum that was promised, won't blame him. Can this really be true? If not what other possible reason can there be for his absence? A parliamentary committee can always be reconvened later, nothing can be set in such solid stone. Either Brown is a coward or a fool, but whichever it is, he has no place at Number 10. Britain deserves better!

  • 10.
  • At 02:20 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Johnny wrote:

A then very junior FCO Minister called Francis Maude signed the Maastricht Treaty...seems none of his bosses could make that signing too.

  • 11.
  • At 02:33 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Kristian Carter wrote:

Ever wonder why people are so cynical about politicians, Nick?

  • 12.
  • At 02:44 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Mr Fenster wrote:

I am on a mission to find someone who actually likes Gordon Brown. I live in a deeply socialist area in the South Wales valleys yet I can find nobody who likes him.

This can't be good for his electoral chances.

At least Blair was divisive, either loved or hated. Brown is neither - just disliked.

He strikes me as scheming, jealously secretive, bullying, unapproachable, dour and cowardly when it comes to fronting up.

None of these qualities are eminently likeable.

Perhaps therein lies the reason why my mission is failing.

  • 13.
  • At 02:45 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Andrew Busson wrote:

If Brown can't arrange his diary properly how are we to trust him to run the Country? The real reason of course is he doesn't want the World press showing him 'selling us out' to unelected foreign rulers. He is quite happy to organise a quick trip to Basra & Kabul and parade himself in front of the cameras and make passionate speeches. I hope people now realise he is just spinning himself into an even bigger hole.

  • 14.
  • At 02:53 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Philip Bannister wrote:

Mr Brown is not so much a socialist... just a politician. The only reason he does not want to be seen signing the 'Constitution' is that it could be more bad publicity for him in the country he is wishes to represent.

note. Has anybody else noticed that if one tries to clearly articulate the bleedin' obvious on here, it makes one (I mean me) sound a bit dim.

  • 15.
  • At 02:55 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Andrew Dundas wrote:

I wonder whether every other political leader of the 27 EU States can be there that morning? It's not unusual for people to arrives later, so I expect Gordon Brown will not be the last to sign this routine agreement.

  • 16.
  • At 03:04 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Peter Jones wrote:

Are the select comittee chairmen aware of the impact of their planned meeting with Mr Brown? Perhaps they could chose to postpone it in the interests of International relations? After all, the atmosphere is likely to be anything but relaxed.

  • 17.
  • At 03:20 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Nigel Wheatcroft wrote:

My god,Brown is not going to be there to sign up to the Constitution(sorry,Treaty)
How many nicknames does this man want:-Mr.Bean,Incapability Brown,Bottler Brown,McCavity Brown,funny how they seem to show that he is never at a place when he should be.

  • 18.
  • At 03:20 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • John K wrote:

TS Eliot:

"Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macacity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, or one or two to spare:
And whatever time the deed took place--MACAVITY WASN'T THERE!"

  • 19.
  • At 03:27 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • The view from here wrote:

A lot of Gordon's behaviour seems to demonstrate a (there's no other word for it) cowardly inability to be the big man, take the flak, rise to the occasion, whatever. He seems to wriggle out of attending things he doesn't want to, makes excuses and passes the buck when things go wrong, and delays having to make brave decisions by having endless, stalling and pointless reviews. All the pre-Blair resignation predictions about a flawed character being not fit for the highest office, would appear to be coming true.
Wriggle out of that one, Gordon!

  • 20.
  • At 03:29 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Eddie wrote:

Seems to be par for the course with this Government.

Unless there are photographs of something actually taking place, they seem to think that they can claim in that it didn't happen, then that it was a junior, that an enquiry will be launched and when the furore has died down, that lessons have been learned.

Gordon Brown still continues to treat the public as fools in thinking that if he is not photographed signing, he will not be associated with it in the public's mind.

Will we get photos of the signature?

  • 21.
  • At 03:40 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • David Simmons wrote:

How can the British people ever trust him, now that he has not only gone against a firm undertaking in Labour's manifesto to put the Constitution/Treaty to a referendum, but to be so sneaky as to sign it in secret..?

  • 22.
  • At 03:43 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Robert wrote:

I suppose the other EU leaders could always stitch Gordon Brown up by having the signing ceremony after lunch.

  • 23.
  • At 03:44 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Ole Thoresen wrote:

Yet again this man is playing the public for fools, insulting everyone's intelligence (including his own!), and showing himself as the true coward he is. Incredible.

  • 24.
  • At 04:09 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Cllr. Paul V. Greenall (Con), West Lancashire District Council wrote:

What do you expect from 'Mr Bean'...?

  • 25.
  • At 04:13 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Justin wrote:

Comrade Gordon IS a socialist. He's just not very sociable that's all.

  • 26.
  • At 04:26 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Romanus Renatus wrote:

Cllr Greenall,
Gordon Brown: Mr Bean! Hilarious.
What about his one? David Cameron: Tony Blair. Ha ha ha!

  • 27.
  • At 05:03 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • PATRICK wrote:


  • 28.
  • At 05:18 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Mike Jackson wrote:

Mr Has Bean.......

  • 29.
  • At 05:32 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Matt Wright wrote:

If Brown is not at the signature maybe we will find a canoe on the beach and he will be photographed in Panama instead?!
Brown is a flawed man and most of the country know it. Unfortunately we have to go through the pain of 2 more years before we can get rid of this shower.

  • 30.
  • At 06:53 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • anti federast wrote:

Can we have a referendum to decide if Mr Bean gets to keep the pen?

  • 31.
  • At 09:04 PM on 11 Dec 2007,
  • Douglas Cochrane wrote:

It is very simple, Gordon Brown does not want to be captured on film breaking his promise he made to the British people. The picture may come back to haunt him when the pro-referendum people are finally able to corner him and make him do what is right for Britain.

  • 32.
  • At 12:03 AM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • Cynosarges wrote:

Chamberlain is, accurately, damned by history in a photograph showing his surrender of Czechoslovakia to tyranny.

Brown intends to avoid a photograph, but will still be damned by history for surrendering the United Kingdom to tyranny.

  • 33.
  • At 08:47 AM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • bruce burniston wrote:

Given Brown's track record this latest bit of smoke and mirrors doesn't surprise me. He makes Richard Nixon look like George Washington!

  • 34.
  • At 09:23 AM on 12 Dec 2007,
  • mike owen wrote:

Seems that disappearing acts are endemic amongst this government. Are Peter Hain, and Douglas Alexander alive, has they been sighted by any journalists in the last two and half weeks? Doesn't it trouble you that ministers can go AWOL when there are questions about their behaviour?

Isn't it odd that Brown can turn up to 'celebrate' the unveiling of the next absurd 10 year plan for the crossing of 't's and the dotting of 'i's, yet he cannot be bothered to sign up for this treaty, or constitution. But isn't this par for the course for someone who would not attend briefings at the MOD or explain the numerous failings of PFI schemes and tax credits.

Not only does he lack a backbone, but he seems to have lost his moral compass, he cannot afford to take the electorate for granted. He is, simply a five letter fellow

  • 35.
  • At 05:25 PM on 15 Dec 2007,
  • Neil Basset wrote:

Gordon Brown has made himself a hostage to fortune. By saying publically that the business of parliament comes first, over and above international commitments, we will expect him to adhere to this practise in future.

So, for example, if he is invited to sign a popular international treaty in the future and it conflicts with parliamentary business, he should put Parliament first.

We will judge him on this, if he sticks to his principals I will respect him. If he does not and foresakes Parliamentary business, which he says has priority, I will not

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