On 12 June, voters in Ireland rejected the EU Lisbon Treaty by 46.6% to 53.4% in a national referendum. Turnout was relatively high, at 53%.
However, despite the resounding no vote, EU leaders meeting in Brussels last week decided to press ahead regardless, agreeing that ratification of the Treaty should continue in other countries. They also agreed that Irish voters should eventually be asked to vote again, until they say 'yes'.
Despite claiming that they want to "respect" the Irish no vote, EU leaders across the whole of Europe have no intention of doing so. They are determined to press ahead with the Lisbon Treaty.
Here are just some of the extraordinary reactions to the Irish vote from Europe's leaders:
"They [the Irish] are bloody fools. They have been stuffing their faces at Europe's expense for years and now they dump us in the s***."
- Nicolas Sarkozy, French President (Times, 20 June)
"The Lisbon Treaty is not dead... It is imperative that they vote again."
- Valery Giscard d'Estaing, former French President and author of the EU Constitution (RTL, 19 June)
"I don't think you can say the treaty of Lisbon is dead even if the ratification process will be delayed."
- Jean-Pierre Jouyet, French Europe Minister (Reuters, 16 June)
"I am convinced that we need this Treaty. Therefore we are sticking with our goal for it to come into force. The ratification process must continue."
- Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister (Reuters, 14 June)
"Of course we have to take the Irish referendum seriously. But a few million Irish cannot decide on behalf of 495 million Europeans."
- Wolfgang Schaeuble, German Interior Minister (Deutsche Welle, 15 June)
"We think it is a real cheek that the country that has benefited most from the EU should do this. There is no other Europe than this treaty. With all respect for the Irish vote, we cannot allow the huge majority of Europe to be duped by a minority of a minority of a minority."
- Axel Schäfer, SPD leader in the German Bundestag (Irish Times, 14 June)
The Treaty "will be applied, albeit a few months late."
- Lopez Garrido, Spanish Europe Minister (Forbes, 15 June)
"The Treaty is not dead. The Treaty is alive, and we will try to work to find a solution."
- Jose Barroso, European Commission President (Press Conference, 14 June)
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2. Petition against UK ratification gains 26,000 signatures in under a week
Following the no vote, a petition was set up on the Downing Street website, urging Gordon Brown to respect the Irish decision and stop ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in the UK. In only 6 days, the petition received over 26,000 signatures, making it the fastest growing online petition (now closed).
Despite this, ratification continued, with the House of Lords last week voting in favour of the Treaty. The final stage of ratification in the UK will now take place once the Government has heard the verdict of Stuart Wheeler's court case, who is fighting against the Government's refusal to hold a referendum. The outcome of the case is expected this week.
3. What you can do now
Of all 27 EU member states, the Czech Republic is the only country which appears ready to accept the Irish no vote. Czech President Vaclav Klaus called the vote a "victory of freedom and reason" and said "ratification cannot continue", and Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said, "The Irish 'No' is not of a lesser impact for us than the French and Dutch 'No'."
Despite pressure from all the other EU leaders at the summit in Brussels last week, Mr. Topolanek objected to a declaration calling for rapid ratifications in the seven other countries - including his own - that are yet to agree the Treaty.
The Czech Senate has stalled ratification to await a constitutional court ruling on the Lisbon Treaty and Mr. Topolanek said: "If the vote was today, I would not bet 100 crowns [about £3] on a yes vote."
Please write to Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, offering him your support and letting him know he is not alone, despite the immense pressure he is under from other EU leaders to continue to ratify the Treaty regardless of the Irish no vote.
You can contact him here: email@example.com
4. What happens next?
The Irish no vote has bought time, but the struggle is far from over. The I WANT A REFERENDUM campaign team continues to fight the battle for democracy on all fronts. You can find much of the work they do at the OPEN EUROPE website. Please also dIsplay this banner on your website or blog to encourage other people to get involved.