The Irish say “No” – a triumph for democracy

Thank heavens the Irish were allowed a vote – the only country where they dared test their unwanted Treaty. Thank heavens they have voted No, showing that wherever the Constitution has been put to the people it has been defeated.

Instead of talking about the “crisis for the EU”, and saying the voters have made a mistake, the EU elite really must this time listen and change its mind. They should

1. Say sorry for pressing ahead this far, at our expense, against the wishes of so many people in the EU
2. Say they will now look at how to strengthen people and Parliaments and cut the powers the EU holds over us all as that is the clear message from a majority of voters who are consulted
3. Agree that no elements of this constitutional Treaty which strengthen the powers of the EU will go ahead. Lisbon should now be dead.
4. Accept that this is not the voters who have “plunged Europe” into more constitutional wranglings, but the elite of the EU who have plunged themselves into this by their obstinate refusal to listen

The UK should press ahead with its own referendum to reinforce the message to the elite. Given that these unrealistic bureaucrats are still talking about defying the wishes of the voters, they need to be taught another lesson in democracy.

Meanwhile our government should abandon all attempts to ratify the Treaty by Parliamentary process.

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44 Comments

  1. Travis Bickle
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    John

    We all know they will just shrug their shoulders, pretend the Irish voters didn't understand the question, and carry on regardless. (who, exactly, is going to hold them to account?)

    All of which would further illustrate, and endorse, the reasons why Mr Davis took such drastic action yesterday.

  2. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Of course, gravy trains might fly…

  3. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    We owe the Irish people a debt of gratitude. Your proposals are commendable. If only we could now expect the anti-democratic Euro "elite" to give up quite so easily! There is no chance of this and in this regard they will be fully supported by Brown. What actions will the Conservative opposition now take to ensure that they are not allowed to ride roughshod over the voice of the people once again?

  4. alan eastwood
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood,

    Sadly we all know that the EU pushed by the Germans will ignore the Irish. They will come up with some wheeze that will just sideline the Irish.

    It would be good, now, for Mr Cameron to promise that he will hold a referendum, on the EU, as soon as the Conservative Party is elected as the Government. Perhaps he could take up Mr Clegg's excellent idea a referendum on being IN or OUT of the EU!

    I happen to believe we would be better off out and get the Commonwealth back together, as it was, as full trading partners.
    Alongwith North America.

    What a great two days for democracy.

    Have a good weekend.

  5. Susan
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

    If only you were right … … However, Brown has already phoned Sarkozy to assure him that he will press ahead regardless and that the treaty will be ratified 'next week'. I haven't heard anything yet on the result of Stuart Wheeler's court case. Can nothing be done?

  6. William B.
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    As the late Stanley Unwin would say "deep joy".

    Now, perhaps, we will witness the real debate over the EU namely whether it should be a political union or a trading union.

    As every reader of this blog will know the referendum in 1975 was held after the Wilson government negotiated a change in the terms of the UK's membership of the EEC. The case put for staying in was that the EEC was purely a trading union and that the UK would benefit from a free market in which the absence of trade barriers would allow fair competition and encourage enterprise and efficiency. Those who claimed that the underlying purpose of the founders of the EEC was to create a political union were dismissed as scare-mongerers or worse.

    I doubt very much that the new members of the EU from the old Soviet bloc have joined in order to give away to an EU bureaucracy powers they fought so hard to wrest from the hands of the Kremlin.

    Those of us who believe that (a) free trade is the key to long term economic prosperity and (b) local democracy is the key to social stability now have a long-desired opportunity to change the European project.

    Unfortunately I can't stand Guinness, but a family-sized G&T will be raised to the Irish this evening.

  7. AlanofEngland
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    God bless Ireland, my prayers have been answered and I will celebrate in style with some fine vintage draft Guinness.

  8. wrinkled weasel
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to disappoint you, but you still labour under the impression that Democracy is alive and well. It is not. Lies are alive and well. Dishonesty by the ruling elite is alive and well (allegatiions left out).

    We have a Prime Minister who (2 words left out) obfuscates as his default mode. His government and its executive are a lying, obfuscating culture that has eroded basic freedoms and taxed us to the hilt.

    However joyful the occasion of the Irish result maybe, you must be mad to believe that it will change anything. Europe is run by a tribal oligarchy, in essence no different to the dark ages apart from its geographical and communicative centrality. The European machine is organised. It administers its own version of the highest courts of law. It is now stifling minority opinion within. One day it will be impossible to make any effective opposition – the machinery for it will not exist and possibly, not even the language.

  9. B. Jones
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Gordon Brown could try win the situation back with this. I think the Tories are weak now after David Davis, even though I agree with his decision. Brown should announce an EU treaty and try actually win voters support with good policies instead of telling voters he is right.

    He's already phoned Sarkozy in France and told the masters that we'll plow ahead with the subversion of democracy though, no hope for Brown or Britain at all.

  10. Denis Rawlings
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    I believe John Redwoods comments really hit the mark. I always felt that most people in Europe were more enthusiastic about retaining their individual national identity and not becoming part of some massive "vanilla" European consitutional network. We don't want it, we never wanted it and no matter what name they give it – constitution or treaty (it amounts to the same thing regardless of what our contemptable government tell us) we never wanted it.

    My more synical side tells me that despite the NO vote in a very sensible Ireland, European leaders will try and find some devious and "back-door way of by-passing the result of this correct and democratically achieved decision. Different member states have said NO on two occasions to this treaty and this result should be the end of it. There should no more time, energy or money wasted on this unwanted and totally unnecessary piece of legislation. Originally the Treaty of Rome was one of trade and cooperation not a union of countries to be turned into some giant corporation where we all spend the same money and say and do the same things. We are different countries and we are different people. That's the attraction of Europe. The diversity, the languages, the different cultures and now we don't even have the thrill and excitement of changing our pounds into lire, francs or pesetas when we go on holiday.

    European politicians – don't ignore this. Take it as it is meant, a mandate to do as we ask. Kill this treaty this constitution – we don't want it and I for one would much rather the millions if not billions of pounds spent on this process had been spent relieving poverty and deprivation throughout Europe. Our government leaders will have to live with themsleves for such an appalling waste of valuable resources.

    Denis Rawlings

  11. Confused & Angry
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

    Let me get this straight,

    In the space of three days:

    1. a labour prime minister, leading a government stuffed full of once radical lawyers & student activists, who crawled to prominence on the back of worthwhile causes, is rescued from humiliation over the repressive 42 days pre-charge detention only by the votes of a Unionist Party once led by Ian Paisley and Ann Widdecombe (who these days is clearly one stop on the tube further on from East Ham);

    2. a senior politician, David Davis, the conservative shadow home secretary, is so consumed by a passion for traditional civil liberties, that he resigns his position, and his seat, to fight a by-election on the issue of civil liberties, thereby possibly committing career suicide & invoking the ire of the commentariat, but making a stand on principle which firmly resonates with a public sick of their elected representatives trying to erect a police state; and

    3. the Irish people reject the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum.

    Do I hear the distant sounds of tumbrills?

  12. wonderfulforhisage
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

    Don't hold your breath.

  13. haddock
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps David Davis is now free of europhile/nuconservative shackles and make this part of his stand ?
    I can not see how he can campaign on the loss of our rights and not bring the EU elephant out of the shadow cabinet meeting room.

  14. Paul Williams
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    I agree, but the treaty WILL still be ratified and implemented with or without Ireland. The EU doesn't believe in democracy and never has so I'm not holding my breath that this vote will mean anything significant.

  15. Peter Turner
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    At first sight a very good result. However, I have already heard suggestions as to how the Irish can be ignored. This saddens me as it has happened before and could well happen again. It is not too late for the UK to hold a referrendum also which would probably support the Irish opinion and make it more difficult for the Colleagues to dismiss.

  16. lucysharp
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Thank heavens indeed for the Irish spirit of independence; their government would not have dared deny the people their right to vote on this appalling treaty. Can we do anything which will ensure that we get the same right? Is there any conservative politician prepared to declare publicly that we could be part of a European free trade area without having to give up our sovereignty? We need some leadership: can you suggest a suitable candidate?

  17. Patrick, London
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    Was that a pig flying past your window John?

  18. Mark Wadsworth
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    What a day!

  19. Ken Adams
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 5:26 pm | Permalink

    They won`t do any of those things and the UK will not have a referendum, Brown has already agreed to press ahead with the treaty.

    But it is going to be interesting to see what Mr Cameron does now that it is likely that he might be PM before the thing is ratified in all states.

  20. mikestallard
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Wow! We have been busy today!
    You are so very right. All your four points are smack on target.

    One little tiny thing that would also help a lot is to publish the names of the majority Labour MEPs and the Lib Dem MEPS who refused to reveal their expenses to Open Europe. There are still, I believe a couple of Conservatives in there too. The sooner the gravy train is cleared up the better. Daniel Hannan has been onto this for ages now.

  21. Derek
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    In these economically restrained times, this is the best news I've heard in a long while. Not holding my breath on your three points though.

  22. David Eyles
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    This has been a most interesting couple of months. First there was the local elections; then Boris; then Crewe and Nantwich. And now we have David Davis and the Irish result. Little by little, the state leviathan is slowing up, running out of fuel and road.

    What is particularly fun for me is to speculate what will happen to Labour at the next General Election. If they fail to put up a candidate against Davis, then I suspect that this will cause widespread contempt for Labour on top of the anger that they have caused already.

    If Labour do not put up a candidate, then I am going to break the rule of a lifetime and go into a bookmaker's shop and place a substantial bet on Labour returning fewer MPs to Westminster than the Lib Dems in the next GE. David Davis and, oddly perhaps, the Irish vote have the capacity to change the political landscape in the UK for a very long time.

    Democracy has started to march again.

  23. Michael Heaver
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    John,

    Any chance of you working with the likes of Bill Cash and Bob Spink in the Commons to stop Brown from carrying on the ratification process? I'm very fearful that the europhile mafia et al are simply going to become more forceful in pushing the content of the Treaty through.

  24. Acorn
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    This may end up being a good week for Redwood fans!

    "Meanwhile our government should abandon all attempts to ratify the Treaty by Parliamentary process."

    How do you stop the process? What parliamentary tricks are available. Please explain John.

    By the way. This government is very good at fooling the proletariat, not just on the Terrorism Bill. The government says "don't panic at the pumps", knowing that is exactly what Sun readers will do. Result; everyone fills up their tanks so that the petrol companies can top up the filling stations to cover a four day strike. You have to admit a clever, sneaky move; but so typical of the way they command our lives. Stalin would be proud.

    Reply: We will create a noise, but we do not have the votes, as the electorate voted for a federalist pro EU Parliament in 2005, denying Conservatives enough seats to have a chance of winning a vote on these matters.

  25. Dave, Wirral
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

    You are absolutely spot on John.

    I couldn't have put it better myself.

    If Brown presses ahead with the ratification of what is essentially yesterdays chip-wrapping paper then it is an even clearer indication that he has lost touch with reality and refuses to listen to not just the electorate and his peers but also common sense.

    I'd also like to thank the Irish for rejecting this dreadful treaty, it is not often that the good guy comes out on top, but today is that day.

    Many say that Friday the 13th is unlucky, well not if you have the luck of the Irish it isn't.

  26. Matthew Reynolds
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    If we got out of the EU we could reduce public spending & red tape while having the UK run in the national interest . Democracy would gain as our MP's would decide things rather than having 80% of our laws made by Brussels . Why do MP's need so much money when they can do so little to decide our nations destiny ? Every pro-EU argument has been shown up to be utter rubbish and the scandalous abuse of MEP expenses shows that we need to stop this anti-democratic agenda now . Just think how much lower the basic rate of income tax would be if we did not have to fund French farming subsidies that results in the Third World suffering ? Well done to the Irish for telling the EU : ' Enough , is enough !'

  27. Cassius
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    Should, but please let me know how they must.

  28. Thank you Ireland
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Perhaps now the Irish have voted, their Lordships might find in favour of Mr Wheeler and suggest that the Government should stand by its manifesto commitment to hold a referendum on the Lisbon (Constitutional) Treaty before the the enabling legislation completes its path through Parliament. It is clear that the Government has no mandate to pass this iniquitous piece of legislation, and presumably would have had significantly more trouble getting it through Parliament if the Irish had already voted.

    For Brown to press ahead with enabling a treaty where one of the signatories cannot proceed for constitutional reasons seems reckless and demonstrates complete contempt for the UK electorate. I trust that he and the Foreign Secretary will be pressed very hard on this by the Opposition benches.

  29. Steven Baker
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Hear! Hear!

    But the death throes of "The Project" will be more anguished and more sophisticated. The oligarchs will not give Europeans their freedom and individual responsibility so easily. They will probably attempt to proceed with the "unconstitution" illegally.

    Interesting times?

  30. Elizabeth Elliot-Pyl
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    Yes, John, I do agree with everything you say about this whole EU thing.
    However, as you said in an earlier blog, there goes the pig flying out of the window!
    The EU could no more do the things you suggest than Gordon Brown could "listen" and HEAR what so many of the electorate are saying.

  31. Elizabeth Elliot-Pyl
    Posted June 13, 2008 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    Furthermore, the "government should abandon all attempts to ratify the Treaty by Parliamentary process".
    Of COURSE they SHOULD, but they wont, will they? Apparently Gordo has already rung Sarko to say that he will be proceeding with all due speed on this one.
    See my previous comment about Gordo "listening". He just cant do it.

  32. newmania
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Thankyou for some sanity .Listening to the venomous smarm of Millipede claiming to be a believer in the very Parliament he is turning into a pointless pantomime , such a deadly sense of hopelessness descends that you lose all bearings.

    What can we do ?

  33. Tapestry
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 7:38 am | Permalink

    Lisbon also unravelling in Italy. See HERE

  34. Stuart Fairney
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    A powerful, centralised state, with scant regard for real democracy has an election. During campaiging it uses the resources of the state to make sure the contest is wholly unequal and yet despite this, it loses. Rather than accepting the will of the people it declares that there needs to be another election until it gets the 'right' result. Hardly democracy you might think.

    By the way, I'm talking about ZANU PF.

    I could never believe that the EU would behave like this.

  35. John Capel
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    I am convinced you are completely right and equally sure that every trick in the Brussels book will be used to press ahead and ignore the Irish vote. The arrogance of self-serving politicians and bureaucrats who believe they know best and imperiously by-pass the democratic process has to be put to rest once and for all.

  36. Cliff
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I was very concerned about the way the state broadcaster, the BBC, were spinning this result.

    They stated that the Brussels elite were very angry because the Irish PM had “failed to deliver his country” to the EU.

    What on Earth does that mean?

    Does it mean the populations of the member states are seen by the leaders ot the EUSSR as mere commodoties that can be traded by the elite? Is the EUSSR a giant collective farm and the people are merely livestock on that farm?

    How on Earth can a trading block agreement become a soviet style authoritarian centalised super state in such a relative short time period? Why have our own governments let this happen?

  37. Travis Bickle
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    Cliff

    (words left out)
    The sour grapes line being peddled on BBC about 3 million (by implication) "ruining it" for 490 million conveniently ignores that fact that it is under 10,000 representatives in those countries that are steamrollering the citizens of 26 countries into this superstate with very few of us ever having been asked if that's where we want to go….

  38. Tapestry
    Posted June 14, 2008 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    German ratification also uncertain after Ireland's NO vote. See BBC report HERE.

  39. Marek Pietrachowicz
    Posted June 19, 2008 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I only wanted to express my gratefulness to the People of Ireland. They spoke in the name of all Europeans, who were at the same time gagged to be silent.

    I am Polish, living in Warsaw, and my national Parliament has deprived us Poles of our voice in this matter (guess why). As they comment the situation – you can imagine how crushed the government's spokespeople are – "A single, small nation should not enforce their will over the will of all the United Europe", they explain fiercely. However, they DO wish a group of a few Brussels' politicians to enforce THEIR will over all the Europeans, without asking them for their opinion and agreement. Very democratic indeed.

  40. Wullie - Scotland
    Posted June 20, 2008 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    Westminster denies us our voice. It does so at the expense of democracy. Did we vote for a superstate wherein we have an EU army, Eu taxation, EU police and all the rest that goes with a superstate.

    No. I recall no such vote as we move inexorably to a European Superstae.

    Of course Westminster acts in exactly the same way when it denies the people of Scotland a referendum on whether or not the Scots wish to secede from the Union and redefien the relationship on equal nation status.

    The Iron Fist is alive and kicking, both here and in Europe, and the Conservative party is as guilty as the rest.

  41. RogerinRichmond
    Posted July 18, 2008 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    Might I add, as a 3rd generation Irish Londoner and whilst acknowledging the democratic right of of Eire's citizens to say no to this treaty, I would question their decision. Were a several hundred page document of 'Eurospeak' proportions placed before any conservatively and sceptically minded electorate, such as the Irish and given the negative publicity and margins of time afforded this vote, would the balance of odds be any other way but to this outcome? Yes, I am in favour of this treaty.

  42. W Hutchison
    Posted July 18, 2008 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    In an ever more difficult world something like, and I say like, the EU could be a good thing. But not as it stands just now.

    Independent countries freely choosing to confederate on common issues yes, but an all subsuming superstate where an elite dictate without an electoral mandate.

    This is indeed the issue at the present time in Scotland. The Scots are unhappy about electoral domination from Westminster and it matters not a jot that the Prime Minister and half his entourage come from Scotland.

    Most especially, the Conservative party steadfastly refused to consider any form of devolution in Scotland and the Labour Party introduced debvolution to arrest the march towards the SNP.

    Both approaches at enforcing a UK supersate have failed. The Scots have rejected the Conservatives in Scotland and they will never in their present form regain any power – at least not for another generation, if ever.

    Labour are similarly following the same path. The SNP are in government in the Scottish Parliament, they control many many councils, have 25% of the MEPs and are now poised to take the Glasgow East seat from Labour in a constituency that has been labour held for 72 years!

    So, what does all of this say. Well simply I think John Redwood is right on Europe. You cannot force Scotland, England or Ireland into a so called Union that the people don't want.

    Ireland showed it in the 20's ( or in fact for a long time before that), Scotland is showing it now, and John Redwood is raising the issue for many of the Conservatives.

    When Scotland goes independent, as it will, England will gain a very good neighbour. We have very much in common, we have blood ties and shared interests.

    At that time we will have a 'Union' where the parties entered into it of their own will and choice.

  43. mikestallard
    Posted July 18, 2008 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    RogerinRichmond: this is a completely false argument.
    Look at it this way: I want you to sign this document which is 700 pages of very small type with quite a lot of 6pt in the footnotes.
    Once you have put your signature on the bottom, it becomes a legal contract which neither of us may break.
    You try and read it, as does your lawyer, and find that it looks scary and that it contains a lot of dodgy words and weasel phrases.
    But, of course, you sign it, don't you!
    You trust me!
    And it is only after a couple of weeks when your payments start rolling in and you find your first solicitor's letter on the doormat that you begin to regret your haste.
    Surely it is better not to sign something which you do not understand?

  44. RogerinRichmond
    Posted July 27, 2008 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately (for some) Mike, the Irish electorate appear to have geared their very lack of understanding of and lack of transparency within the document, whilst exercising their sceptically minded right to vote accordingly. They (the Irish electorate) should legally have been advised to abstain, given such a predicament. I would agree that this treaty will indeed be ratified within Eire, by whatever means, given the course of time.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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