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June 26, 2008

We want a referendum Mr Brown

If you follow the progress of the Lisbon Treaty since the Irish rejection, you could be forgiven for thinking that the rest of Europe has been consulted and given a resounding "yes". At least you could if you didn't know that the rest of us haven't been allowed by our illustrious leaders to have any say at all.

I received the e-mail in the extended post from the Campaign Group lobbying for a a Referendum in Britain. It sums up rather nicely just how much our Leaders think of the electorates that put them in power. What they have forgotten is that we have never agreed to surrender our national identities or sovereignty.

We want a referendum Mr Brown, you gave us that assurance in the last election manifesto and you promised it right up to the moment you realised you had no chance of getting a Yes. What are you afraid of? Better still, what are you trying to hide?

Campaign News: 23 June 2008

1. EU leaders carry on with Lisbon Treaty regardless of Irish no vote

On 12 June, voters in Ireland rejected the EU Lisbon Treaty by 46.6% to 53.4% in a national referendum. Turnout was relatively high, at 53%.

However, despite the resounding no vote, EU leaders meeting in Brussels last week decided to press ahead regardless, agreeing that ratification of the Treaty should continue in other countries. They also agreed that Irish voters should eventually be asked to vote again, until they say 'yes'.

Despite claiming that they want to "respect" the Irish no vote, EU leaders across the whole of Europe have no intention of doing so. They are determined to press ahead with the Lisbon Treaty.

Here are just some of the extraordinary reactions to the Irish vote from Europe's leaders:

"They [the Irish] are bloody fools. They have been stuffing their faces at Europe's expense for years and now they dump us in the s***."

- Nicolas Sarkozy, French President (Times, 20 June)

"The Lisbon Treaty is not dead... It is imperative that they vote again."

- Valery Giscard d'Estaing, former French President and author of the EU Constitution (RTL, 19 June)

"I don't think you can say the treaty of Lisbon is dead even if the ratification process will be delayed."

- Jean-Pierre Jouyet, French Europe Minister (Reuters, 16 June)

"I am convinced that we need this Treaty. Therefore we are sticking with our goal for it to come into force. The ratification process must continue."

- Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister (Reuters, 14 June)

"Of course we have to take the Irish referendum seriously. But a few million Irish cannot decide on behalf of 495 million Europeans."

- Wolfgang Schaeuble, German Interior Minister (Deutsche Welle, 15 June)

"We think it is a real cheek that the country that has benefited most from the EU should do this. There is no other Europe than this treaty. With all respect for the Irish vote, we cannot allow the huge majority of Europe to be duped by a minority of a minority of a minority."

- Axel Schäfer, SPD leader in the German Bundestag (Irish Times, 14 June)

The Treaty "will be applied, albeit a few months late."

- Lopez Garrido, Spanish Europe Minister (Forbes, 15 June)

"The Treaty is not dead. The Treaty is alive, and we will try to work to find a solution."

- Jose Barroso, European Commission President (Press Conference, 14 June)

To see more, click here: http://www.openeurope.org.uk/research/irelandbriefing.pdf

This is an extraordinary refusal to accept the democratic will of the people. Ireland has been the only country allowed to have a referendum on the Treaty, and has said no. By the EU's own rules, the Treaty can only enter into force if all 27 member states have ratified it. Therefore, the Treaty should now be dead. It is completely unacceptable that other countries are continuing to ratify the Treaty in the hope of forcing Ireland to vote again, under pressure from the prospect of 26 other countries having ratified it. EU leaders are proving once again that they are simply unable to take 'no' for an answer.

In protest, last week we went to the EU summit in Brussels and held up giant letters spelling out ''NO MEANS NO" in the colours of the Irish flag. The stunt was televised on all the main evening news bulletins, including the Channel 4 News, the BBC 10 O'clock News and Newsnight. To see a picture of the event, click here: http://openeuropeblog.blogspot.com/2008/06/brussels-hearts-gordon.html

2. Petition against UK ratification gains 26,000 signatures in under a week

Following the no vote, we set up a petition on the Downing Street website, urging Gordon Brown to respect the Irish decision and stop ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the UK. In only 6 days, the petition received over 26,000 signatures, making it the fastest growing online petition. Click here to see it: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Abandon-Lisbon/

Many thanks to all those of you who signed our petition and sent it on to your friends.

Despite this, ratification continued, with the House of Lords last week voting in favour of the Treaty. The final stage of ratification in the UK will now take place once the Government has heard the verdict of Stuart Wheeler's court case, who is fighting against the Government's refusal to hold a referendum. The outcome of the case is expected this week.

3. What you can do now

Of all 27 EU member states, the Czech Republic is the only country which appears ready to accept the Irish no vote. Czech President Vaclav Klaus called the vote a "victory of freedom and reason" and said "ratification cannot continue", and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said, "The Irish 'No' is not of a lesser impact for us than the French and Dutch 'No'."

Despite pressure from all the other EU leaders at the summit in Brussels last week, Mr. Topolanek objected to a declaration calling for rapid ratifications in the seven other countries - including his own - that are yet to agree the Treaty.

The Czech Senate has stalled ratification to await a constitutional court ruling on the Lisbon Treaty and Mr. Topolanek said: "If the vote was today, I would not bet 100 crowns [about £3] on a yes vote."

Please write to Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, offering him your support and letting him know he is not alone, despite the immense pressure he is under from other EU leaders to continue to ratify the Treaty regardless of the Irish no vote.

You can contact him here: topolanek.mirek@vlada.cz

4. What happens next?

The Irish no vote has bought us time, but the struggle is far from over. The I Want a Referendum campaign team continues to fight the battle for democracy on all fronts. You can find much of the work we do at the Open Europe website - www.openeurope.org.uk.

From now on, we will also send you Open Europe bulletins, every fortnight or so. Open Europe is an independent think-tank which produces research on everything to do with the EU, as well as a daily summary of EU news, which you can sign up to through the website. You will be able to unsubscribe from the fortnightly bulletin should you wish to.

Many thanks for your support.

Posted by The Gray Monk at June 26, 2008 08:09 PM

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