Long love affair with Brussels comes to an end

Irish voters have delivered a stinging rebuff to official Europe and official Ireland by returning a decisive rejection of the Lisbon Treaty.

The vote – which had been expected to be close and in favour of Lisbon – instead brought a clear victory for the "no" side of 53.4 per cent to 46.6 per cent.

The shocked, pale faces of Ireland's grand old Europeans, in particular the former prime minister Garret FitzGerald, said it all: that the era of the country's long-unquestioning love affair with Europe is over.

The shock left the Irish authorities dazed as they began the task of trying to work out how to proceed on Europe generally, and on how to minimise an anti-Irish backlash in Brussels.

Voters all over the Republic rejected the urgings of the Irish establishment and of the Brussels bureaucracy to say no to Lisbon in a vote seen as illustrating in the most pointed way a striking disconnect between the electorate and the elite.

A generally tepid months-long campaign reached a more heated climax in the past week, culminating yesterday with the jostling of the cabinet minister Brian Lenihan by jubilant anti-abortion campaigners.

When the final result was confirmed, shortly after 5pm, the returning officer was interrupted by prolonged whooping and chanting from Lisbon opponents celebrating what all sides regard as an emphatic victory. The "no" camp amassed 862,000 votes while the "yes" camp collected 752,000, a quite unexpectedly decisive margin of victory which surprised politicians, commentators and – for once – even the bookmakers.

Issues such as abortion were not originally supposed to be important in the campaign, but as it developed a whole range of topics, many said by the "yes" camp to be extraneous, came to the fore.

Yesterday there was little agreement on what exactly had gone wrong for the "yes" camp, which included all the major parties, business groups, most of the trade unions and practically all the media. Early explanations ranged from a mounting disillusionment with the overall European project to a particularly forceful anti-Lisbon campaign mounted by a disparate range of opponents which included the far right and the far left.

This was reflected by the Irish Foreign Minister, Micheal Martin, who said: "We were on the back foot in this campaign, saying things like 'No, Lisbon will not impose abortion, will not mean the ending of Ireland's low corporate tax rate, will not mean conscription to a European army or the end of our military neutrality, or the end of vetoes in relation to farming'."

A number of politicians told of women voters saying they could not support the treaty because of a fear that their sons or grandsons might be conscripted into a future European army.

But in addition to these factors many observers detected an underlying distrust of Brussels and the major Irish parties.

The "no" campaign appeared to make an impact with arguments that Lisbon's highly technical provisions would bring about a loss of Irish influence.

A clear current of nervousness about a growing centralisation of power in Brussels was visible. At the same time, however, hardly anyone in the "no" campaign described themselves as anti-European, insisting they approved of Europe but not of Lisbon.

One of the minority of constituencies to record a "yes" vote was that of the recently appointed Prime Minister, Brian Cowen, in what was seen as a personal local endorsement. But he had campaigned hard in recent weeks and it will come as a blow to him to begin his premiership with such a defeat.

The result also reflected badly on the other large parties, which were also active in the "yes" camp, though it may provide a boost for Sinn Fein, which was in the "no" camp.

Early post-mortems yesterday focused on the "no" camp's early start in the campaign, which allowed it to set the agenda and succeeded in enmeshing the government and other pro-Lisbon elements in the politics of rebuttal.

Mr Martin conceded yesterday: "It's an old adage of politics – when you're explaining you're losing."

While much of the middle class tended to support Lisbon, most of the working class and much of rural Ireland showed themselves against, women were clearly more sceptical than men. But it was a sweeping victory across the Republic for the "no" camp, which registered a majority in 33 of the 43 political constituencies.

The political classes were taken aback both by the result and the scale of the victory, and no one yesterday had any clear idea of where the overall European odyssey might lead to next. On a previous occasion a rejected European proposition was reformulated and put again to the electorate. On that occasion the tactic worked, with a higher turnout and a more energetic "yes" campaign reversing the first result.

On this occasion, however, the scale of the victory would seem to rule out such an approach. The result will be seen as a personal triumph for the millionaire businessman Declan Ganley, whose organisation, Libertas, fought a well-organised and particularly well-funded campaign.

The result

* For: 46.6 per cent, 752,451 votes

* Against: 53.4 per cent, 862,415

* Turnout: 53.1 per cent

*Just 10 out of the 43 constituencies – Clare; Dublin South; Dublin South East; Dublin North; Dublin North Central; Dun Laoghaire; Kildare North; Laois-Offaly; Carlow-Kilkenny; and Meath East – voted in favour

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
People walk through Autumn leaves in St James's Park yesterday
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits