So Ireland has said ‘no’ to the Europe’s new Lisbon Treaty which has taken nigh on 10 years to develop. This is the third failed referendum on an EU treaty in three years can only be seen as a serious blow to the EU’s credibility at home and abroad.
All 27 member states were required to ratify the treaty before it can be made law, and 26 have already done so. How ironic that the only state which held a public referendum has said no. This has put the heads of state in a bit of a spin – what will they do now? The Czech President, Vaclav Klaus, has said the treaty is finished, since any further ratification is impossible; however this is not a view shared by other leaders.
The UK’s Europe minister, Jim Murphy, has said that it is still a good treaty for Britain. Why, then, did the current Labour government renege on the promise it made in the run-up to the last election, to held a UK referendum on the treaty? Well, you don’t need too many brain cells to work that out – the government was terrified that, in all probability, the British public would also have said no. No doubt the Irish government would like to have avoided a referendum for similar reasons, but in their case it was compulsory within the terms of the Irish Constitution. Shame that it’s not the case for Britain too.
Unless you happen to be in business, trading with European states, it is difficult for the British public to identify the benefit of being an EU member. The EU is perceived as a monstrous, inefficient, self-perpetuating gravy-train fabricating fatuous laws about the straightness of bananas, or when you are permitted to call a sausage a sausage. The only crumb of comfort for British people is that so far the government has not signed up to the single currency.
Where will Europe go from here? I’m sure that after the initial hiatus has faded, some way will be found to enable it to carry on regardless of Ireland’s rejection.