With only one constituency left to declare, and only nine having voted "yes" (and one of those only doing so by 6 votes) it seems the Irish electorate have voted solidly to reject the
EU Constitution Lisbon Treaty. It is imperative, not only for democracy but also for any sense of accountability that politicians in Brussels and in every EU capital city accept the result and listen to the people.
The EU, and the national politicians who are so much more keen on integration than their constituents, have an awful track record for ignoring referendum results.
In 1992, Denmark rejected the Maastricht Treaty, but instead of accepting the No vote and ditching the Treaty, it was put to another vote in 1993. Back in 2001, Ireland voted No to the Nice Treaty, but again another referendum was swiftly scheduled and it passed. Most recently, in 2005 the French and the Dutch voted No to the EU Constitution but instead of killing the document, it was reincarnated as the current Lisbon Treaty and brought straight back, this time without referenda in any country other than Ireland, despite being an almost identical document.
The EU cannot - and must not - continue flouting the law and the express will of the people. This Treaty has been rejected by the only people who have been given the opportunity to vote on it. In its previous guise as the Constitution it was roundly rejected by both France and Holland, both key EU players, and the British Government have chickened out of holding the referendum they promised in their 2005 manifesto because it was clear the British people would vote No. Legally it should die as soon as any one country refuses to ratify. And yet what is happening as a result of the Irish vote?
Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the Commission, has called for other states to continue ratification.
Gordon Brown has phoned President Sarkozy to assure him the UK will press ahead with ratifying the Treaty in Parliament.
The Dutch are continuing with ratification, despite the express wishes of their voters in 2005.
There is a clear divide regarding the European project - the people repeatedly vote No when they are asked about continuing integration, but the political class seem dedicated to forcing it through regardless. This cannot continue. The EU spends billions of pounds of our money, and controls an estimated 80% of our new legislation. The taxpaying and voting public cannot continue to be frozen out of the legislative and public policy arena - it is antidemocratic and offensive to the 450 million people who live in EU member states.
The collective leaders of the EU and its member nations should listen to the message being sent to them by the Irish people today. Judging by their track record, and their early responses, though, they won't listen and will do their best to ride roughshod over our express wishes. If that happens, taxpayers' money will continue to be spent inefficiently and unaccountably behind closed doors, screeds of unscrutinised legislation will continue to flow from Brussels into Whitehall, British business will continue to be throttled by red tape and public resentment of the undemocratic way the EU operates will continue to grow. One thing is sure - we cannot go on like this.