By Daniel Martin
A secret European Union plan to force Ireland to vote again on the Lisbon Treaty emerged yesterday.
French officials have penned an explosive document entitled ‘Solution to the Irish Problem’, in which they say the EU should push Ireland into re-running its referendum next year, opening the way for the treaty to come into force next year.
In return, Europe would offer Dublin a few promises, in a bid to ensure its people vote in favour of the treaty.
Gordon Brown smiles as he signs the Lisbon Treaty
Critics say it is almost identical to the EU Constitution, rejected by the French and the Dutch in 2005.
Labour promised British voters a referendum on the constitution – but then reneged on their promise when it was re-fashioned as a treaty.
Ireland’s support is vital because the Lisbon Treaty cannot come into force across the EU until all 27 countries have ratified it. Ireland was the only country which gave its voters a referendum.
The leaked document predicts that Ireland will cave in at a meeting of Europe’s leaders next month, and agree to hold a second referendum next Autumn.
In return, the EU will guarantee that Ireland will not lose its own EU commissioner, and will make ‘declarations’ that Ireland’s neutrality and stance on abortion will not be affected by the treaty.
The ‘no’ campaign claimed during the referendum campaign that Ireland’s outlawing of abortion, unless the mother’s life is in danger, was under threat if the treaty was passed.
The document says there will be ‘a political declaration confirming that the Treaty of Lisbon does not jeopardise Irish neutrality, or the rule of unanimity on tax matters and will not oblige Ireland to modify its position on abortion.’
It adds: ‘The second Irish referendum could take place, on this basis, during Autumn 2009, pushing back the coming into force of the Treaty of Lisbon until 2010.’
It was written by a senior EU official based in Paris who is a member of a group called Friends of the Lisbon Treaty.
The treaty creates an EU president, a foreign minister and establishes and EU diplomatic service. Britain went ahead with ratification, despite its rejection by Irish voters.
Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said: ‘It cannot be right for the Irish to be made to vote twice on the renamed EU constitution before the British people are allowed to vote once.
‘Gordon Brown has cheated British voters of their say, By denying people any decision on this treaty he is actually undermining the EU’s own democratic legitimacy. The least he can do now is make it absolutely clear that there must be no bullying of Ireland to get them to vote again.
‘The right response to the Irish “no” vote is to abandon the Lisbon treaty altogether and call a total halt to the centralisation of power in Brussels.’
Neil O’Brien, of Eurosceptic think-tank Open Europe, said: ‘The EU simply won’t take no for answer. They will make Ireland vote again and again until they are bullied into coming up with the so-called “right” answer.
‘The British Government should be ashamed of itself for being part of the attempt to bully and isolate the Irish. The polls show that people in most other countries would say to the EU Treaty too. That’s why Gordon Brown is terrified of allowing us to have the vote on Europe which he promised at the last election.’
Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, said: ‘It’s deja vu all over again. In Europe, yes means yes and no means: “We’ll do it again later”.’