Behind the headline – The Treaty Con
Libertas have an outraged press release accusing the Irish government of a systematic campaign to hide information on the Lisbon Treaty based on what they call “an email from a very senior Irish official to his British counterpart” which the Daily Mail published today. Headlined the Treaty Con, this story is picked up by a few other bloggers such as Iain Dale , the Daily Telegraph Blog and Open Europe.
Unfortunately, not for the first time Libertas are engaging in sharp practice. According to the Mail (story on politics.ie) there was no email from a very senior Irish official, rather the leaked email is a briefing from the British Embassy in Dublin to London, on a briefing they received. As such, it ain’t form the horses mouth.
But anyway, noting that the Daily Mail hasn’t published the email itself – one wonder’s why? – let’s look at what they claim, the British Embassy are claiming the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs are saying.
Essentially, it amounts to five things:
1) The decision to hold the vote this side of the summer was chosen because of fear of what President Sarkozy may say or do during the French presidency in the second half of the year;
2) There was a desire not to associate the Treaty with anything to do with the UN military operation that Ireland is participating in in Chad with France, Poland and others;
3) There was some form of agreement with the Commission to delay “bad news”;
4) The government is concerned about the WTO talks on the farming vote; and
5) The government may pull a fast one on the date, and move it forward a week which would unsettle the no campaign it is claimed.
So, based on points 1-4 the government is keen to keep stuff which has nothing to do with the Lisbon Treaty away from the debate on Lisbon. Is that really that Machiavellian? After all, whatever emerges in Chad, the WTO, under the French presidency or from the Commission over the coming months will all have emerged in an EU without Lisbon. The Lisbon Treaty won’t herald in a Common Corporation Tax base, yet has that stopped some from calling for us to reject the Treaty on those grounds.
Point 5 is little more than sharp practice, which undesirable is hardly a massive matter.
The Open Europe blog has a text which it claims is the memo (not sure how they got their hands on it). Bar the revelation on the date, it doesn’t seem to be that explosive.
By the way, anyone think that the Daily Mail might have an agenda here?