One of the more surprising aspects of the Lisbon treaty debate is the free pass the No side gets on the outcome. Supposing there is a No vote: What happens next?
We do remain in the EU, and the EU operates under old rules, so no mad crisis. But what happens when other EU countries respect our decision not to support further integration, but wish to go ahead themselves?
This is where Mary Lou, Joe Higgins, the Tories, Youth Defence and Richard Boyd Barrett fall apart. They claim we can re-negotiate the perfect treaty. But why would the rest of the EU want that? They don’t need us that much, and having voted No twice, we will have been very clear about our opinions. Surely the rest of Europe will know that negotiating with us is a waste of time.
So they negotiate a new treaty, outside the EU, without us even being in the room, respecting our decision not to want to take part. Next year, the Tories will almost certainly win the British general election, and move to take Britain out to the edges of the EU, as France, Germany, Italy, Spain and most of the other countries move to further integration. Our choice, and it will be our choice, will be to take part in the integration process, or remain outside with the Brits, once again John Bull’s little brother.
How is this of benefit to us? The No campaign hinges on an odd belief that the right of the rest of Europe to move on without us must not be respected, yet demand they respect our right not to move on. The irony is that it will be Sinn Fein that forces us, for the first time in 30 years, to become once again reliant on Britain. Still, at least it shows that MI5 got value for their money.