To my mind the referendum on the Nice Treaty comes down to a single proposition. If you favour a political union in Europe, you should vote yes. If you do not favour a political union in Europe, you should vote no.
I use the term ‘political union’ instead of the more emotive ‘superstate’ word but in essence it is the same thing.
For some time now it has been clear that the political class across Europe want to create a single political entity. Each successive treaty – Maastrict, Amsterdam, Nice – takes a step in this direction.
Each treaty does not in itself create political union. That is the nature of this thing. There is no honest ambition here. We will never be asked whether we are in favour of such a union. It is being foisted upon us by stealth.
The Nice Treaty is a classic piece of deception and sleight of hand. It sets out as the vehicle for enlargement and within that deal it packs a whole raft of integration.
This integration, which include the loss of Ireland’s automatic right to appoint a commissioner and 35 areas in which our veto is abolished, was justified by the need to make a Union of 25 countries easier to govern.
There was an alternative route. In order to make the EU easier to govern it could have been stripped of most of its power.
A free association of nations does not need to decide such a wide swathe of policy at international level. The EU does not have to have such ambitions for itself.
Already the integrationists are talking about a European Constitution, a European President, common police forces, common taxation and so on, and so on.
We know that a common defence policy is imminent and the Nice Treaty clears the way for it by excluding references to the Western European Union, a previously external military pact.
The Yes side will say that we can refuse all of these things in the future. But their own tactics in this referendum show that to be a little white lie. Their main argument for a yes vote this time is that we are so dependent on Europe that we daren’t say no.
The truth is that there will never come a right time for us to say no.
The Laeken Declaration issued after the Nice Treaty was agreed makes it clear that the EU leadership know that they are running far ahead of public opinion. There is no public demand across Europe for further integration and when asked Europeans say they don’t want a European state.
No other country subjected the Nice Treaty to a popular referendum. Millions of Europeans were robbed of their right to oppose this treaty and the integrationist course it sets us upon.
If we reject Nice now, what will be the outcome? Enlargement might well be delayed for a couple of years. But the integrationists will have been stopped in their tracks.
They know that a rejection by the Irish voters will represent the views of tens of millions of Europeans who have been ignored up to now.
It’s our continent too. We have a right to reject the integrationist’s agenda. We have a right to say no. Use it.