Stop the ratification process, says Hague

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Indy Politics

Shadow foreign secretary William Hague said the Government should now halt the ratification process in Britain in the light of the Irish vote.

"Alone in Europe they have had the chance to make their views known. If democracy in the EU is to mean anything their decision must be respected," he said.

"The British Government must respect the Irish people's verdict. Ratification of the Lisbon Treaty in Parliament must be stopped immediately."

He said that if Government still wanted to go ahead with ratification, it must now give people in Britain a say through a referendum.

"There are now no excuses left for denying the British people their say. So unless it is agreed that this Treaty is dead and buried it is essential that the British people have their say," he said.

"There is no justification for the Irish people being allowed their say while the British are denied theirs."

He added: "This is a great day for Britain and the peoples of Europe. Now is the time to end the old top-down Europe which the Irish have so decisively rejected. It is time to renew the European Union on respect for its people's wishes."

Sammy Wilson, the new Northern Ireland Environment Minister and DUP MP for East Antrim, welcomed the No vote.

"The people of the United Kingdom were not given the opportunity to have their say on the Lisbon Treaty, despite the fact that all parties had promised in their manifestos to hold a referendum.

"I have no doubt that if we were given the opportunity to have our say, the UK would have voted as the Republic of Ireland has. Unfortunately we were robbed of our promised chance to let Europe know what we actually think of this treaty."

The result sent a very strong message to leaders in Europe that the European Constitution was dead.

"It was firmly rejected by the French and Dutch and it was rejected by the Irish when it was disguised as the Lisbon Treaty. There now must be no attempt whatsoever to bring this failed constitution back in any format," said the MP.

He predicted EU leaders would try to resurrect the treaty by tweaking it enough so people would be fooled into thinking that it was a different document.

He pledged; "The DUP however will continue to oppose any attempt to undermine British sovereignty and the primacy of Parliament."

Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies said the European Union would "muddle on" despite the rejection,

"At its heart, the EU is simply a mechanism that allows 27 countries with shared values to work together. The process is slow, confused, and occasionally shambolic, but it is the best we have."

Mr Davies added: "The defeat of the constitution didn't destroy the EU and nor will this defeat of the treaty. When the fuss has died down Europe's government will still have to muddle on together and deal with the problems they face in common."

Fellow Liberal Democrat Andrew Duff said it was a "tragic outcome" for Ireland, the EU and Europe's place in the world: "The problems that this treaty address remain the same - democracy, efficiency and our capacity to act. The treaty is in the very best interests of all the member states.

"Brian Cowen will have some tough explaining to do next week at the EU summit. EU leaders should not delay a decision about how to tackle the problem. If a solution is to be found it needs to be done soon."

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said the only people to have a public voice on the treaty had "kicked it into the long grass".

He went on: "I suspect that the EU extremists will simply try to ignore it."

He said the process of the treaty through the House of Lords next week had now to be halted "because the project now has no legitimacy".

Tory peer Lord Tebbit commented: "Perhaps now both the European Union and the British Government will understand that wherever the Treaty or the constitution have been put to the people, the people have rejected it.

"For Britain to ratify the Treaty which has been rejected wherever people have been given their say would be a nonsense.

"If Brown wants to ratify the Treaty, despite the Irish vote, he should hold a referendum here, and as far as the EU is concerned, it should now understand that the people of Europe are not prepared to go farther and deeper into the process of creating a European state," he added.