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Ireland Should Vote No to EU Treaty

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Six years ago, work began on a constitution designed, in a bitter irony, to bring the union closer to the people. When that was rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005, the EU, in time-honoured fashion, refused to take no for an answer and drew up an amending treaty in which the substance of the constitution was preserved but the need for further referenda minimised.

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It was on that specious distinction that the Labour Party, having promised a referendum in its 2005 manifesto, wriggled out of an exercise in direct democracy that promised certain defeat.

Instead, ratification is taking place through parliaments, except in Ireland, which is constitutionally bound to a referendum.

Irish voters sceptical about the treaty have been threatened by the Fianna Fáil-led coalition under Brian Cowen and by the European Commission about the consequences of rejection. Because other countries have funked consulting the electorate, they face having to bear the brunt of official censure.

If the result is no, the EU may hesitate, following the French and Dutch vetoes, to re-submit the Lisbon Treaty to Irish voters (a tactic employed with the Nice Treaty in 2001). However, it can be expected largely to cushion the blow of rejection by implementing treaty provisions through intergovernmental agreement.

Despite this haughty disregard of opposition to what is in all but name a rehashed constitution, it is important for the future of European democracy that the Irish vote no. Rejection will further expose the profoundly dirigiste nature of the EU.

And that will hasten the day when the electorate, not least in Britain, finally slams the brakes on the apparently irreversible drive towards ever greater union.

"Telegraph view" is written by our team of leader writers and commentators. This team includes David Hughes, Philip Johnston, Simon Heffer, Janet Daley, Con Coughlin, Robert Colvile, Iain Martin, Damian Thompson and Alex Singleton.

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