One of the perennials of Irish referenda on Europe is the question of “what happens if we vote NO?”
Oddly, it’s always the same answer from the Government – “there’ll be no second deal!” “There’ll be chaos!!” “Burning fire will fall from the sky and destroy everything you own!!!”.
Of course, the real answer is different every time. In Lisbon, for example, a NO vote secured guarantees on our corporate tax rate which are looking pretty valuable today.
This time though, we have to look at what will happen in a totally broader context. This isn’t a constitutional treaty about how Brussels works, like most of the treaties we’ve voted on – it’s an economic treaty that’s being written into our constitution because it gives a degree of control over how we spend our money to people in Brussels.
More importantly, it’s far more controversial right across Europe than most of the other treaties we’ve voted on, because it will directly impact your pocket.
And very significantly, it’s one where there’s real division in the leadership of Europe. The new French President doesn’t like it. The German parliament has delayed ratifying it. Our nearest neighbours tried to stop it altogether. It’s increasingly clear that the Treaty is going to be changed, so the real question becomes not “what happens if we vote no?” but “what do we want our vote to say when they’re renegotiating it?”
So our view is simple – this treaty causes immense pain without solving the underlying problem of bank debt across Europe. We’re not Sinn Fein or Joe Higgins et al at Libertas – we don’t imagine that pain can be avoided here. We do think though, that if we have to go through the pain of fixing the problem, we should do it for a solution that actually works. This treaty doesn’t do that – which is why it’s so controversial, and why our “NO” vote will be so important.