October 7, 2009
It was not only the size of the ‘yes ‘ vote in the second Irish referendum on the Lisbon Treaty but, more crucially, the increased turn out that fully justified the Irish government’s decision to call a second vote. This time, the ‘yes’ campaign confronted head on the distortions of the Treaty’s opponents and achieved a resounding success. There is a lesson from this for the whole of Europe.
It would only be possible to hold a meaningful referendum here in the UK if there were a similar and clear explanation of the role that Britain plays in Europe and the role of the EU in the wider world. David Cameron and William Hague are avoiding the question of what they will do if the Lisbon treaty is ratified before they are elected. But neither they nor any other politician should be permitted to avoid the central issue of explaining to the electorate not only the underlying vision and purpose of the European Union and its institutions but also the massive cost that would result in leaving it. The British people have been kept in ignorance for over 30 years. If Euroscepticism in Britain is to be challenged and reversed, the full story must be told openly and effectively.