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Ireland under Franco-German pressure to hold new EU vote
The Irish government is expected to bow to Franco-German pressure and hold a second referendum to try to rescue the Lisbon treaty that voters rejected this month.
The plan for a possible new vote in Ireland, being discussed by some ministers in Dublin, will be greeted with outrage by opponents of the treaty in Britain.
Irish ministers believe it may be able to rescue the treaty if they can secure concessions from Europe to placate voters on a list of issues.
“A yes vote can be achieved if the Irish people are offered guarantees on issues like defence and taxation,” said one senior Irish official.
“The no campaign will be picked off one by one. Everyone has a price.”
The likely time for a new referendum is next spring so that the treaty can come into force before the June 2009 European election campaign for the Brussels parliament. The date is favoured by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
If the Irish vote no again, Gordon Brown would have to choose between siding with Ireland to stop its citizens being turned into second-class Europeans or siding with France and Germany to push ahead with further European Union integration.
Concessions likely to be sought by Ireland include guarantees to protect its neutrality in the event of European armed forces being created, the reinstatement of its right to a European commissioner and the right to set its own abortion laws and corporate tax rates.
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