Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Long Road to Lisbon

It was an utterly shocking outcome. It seems that 88% of the British public are in favour of a referendum on the treaty of Lisbon. What makes this result doubly surprising is that the poll was carried out for the completely unbiased "I Want a Referendum" campaign group. Whether the poll itself is flawed or biased is, in fact, irrelevant. Let us instead consider the potentially monumental impact of this poll. Yes, that's right folks, it will have absolutely zero impact on Britain's acceptance or rejection of the treaty. Unfortunately for anti-EU and anti-treaty groups, Britain's brand of constitutional monarchy makes no legal requirement for the holding of a referendum on any matter; it is for parliament to decide.

Aside from these issues, the simple fact is that such a poll will tell us very little about whether the treaty will ultimately be ratified or rejected. Furthermore, considering the Lib Dems are likely to support Labour in the passing of the treaty in parliament, the treaty is practically a shoo in as far as the UK is concerned. In fact, the only country where the treaty will be (by law) ratified by the people is Ireland.

For the Irish people there are many issues to consider in the run up to the referendum - the status of EU commissioners, Ireland's neutrality, and the roll of national governments in the EU, to name just a few. With any luck we'll be looking at those in a more detail as R-Day approaches (the date has yet to be finalised in Ireland). Whatever the outcome, I hope that the European Union will actually respect the decision of the Irish people.

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