A former Labour Party activist was today defeated in his "David v Goliath" legal challenge with the Government over its refusal to grant a referendum on the European Union Lisbon Treaty.

A judge struck out a case brought by UK Independence Party (Ukip) parliamentary hopeful Stuart Bower in which he accused Prime Minister Gordon Brown of a breach of contract.

Ahead of the hearing, Mr Bower argued that the Lisbon Treaty, signed by 27 member states of the EU in December, is effectively the same as the European Constitution on which the Government promised a referendum at the last General Election.

James Fenton, representing Mr Bower at Brighton County Court, said a Labour manifesto pledge in 2005 created a "legitimate expectation" that a referendum would be held.

In arguing that Mr Bower's case should proceed, Mr Fenton also said the Government had usurped the Crown's authority by signing the Lisbon Treaty, raising what he called fundamental constitutional questions.

He said: "It is quite clear that the Government cannot do more than what the Crown can do, so whatever the limitations apply to the Crown apply also to Parliament.

"The effect of the Lisbon Treaty is to transfer governance of this country to a body that does not owe allegiance to the Monarch and is not accountable to the people of this country."

However, the Government quoted authority which said that an alleged failure to fulfil a manifesto promise fell outside the laws under which the claim was being brought.

Cecilia Ivimy, for the Government, said: "A manifesto promise is incapable of giving rise to a legally binding contract with the electorate. It is a point which is so obvious that I don't want to labour it."

Responding to claims that the Government usurped the Crown, she added that it was not a judicial issue and that the Government was exercising the Crown's powers.