Watching the special ‘EU Constitution Question Time‘ last night left me saddened. The vote in France is going to be worryingly close – and France has had a very open and public debate, with a serious attempt to bring awareness of the issues to a wide audience.Despite the information overload, French voters seem willing to destroy the treaty for one of three reasons:
- They see the constitution as ‘Thatcherite’ in it’s economic outlook
- They are sceptical about the accession of Turkey
- They don’t like Chirac and want to give him a bloody nose
The constitution does underpin a free market – but that’s hardly ‘Thatcherism’ – if it were I’d be against it too! If they don’t like Chirac, they must remember that the fallout from their decision on Sunday will be around long after Jacques has been forgotten about. I could write a whole piece about why we should try to get Turkey into the EU – but it’s completely unconnected with getting this constitution ratified.
I really hope the French forget these issues on Sunday and vote on what really matters, they have a habit of proving opinion polls wrong.
But what about us? If France votes ‘non’, then whatever anyone says, the treaty is scuppered. We will all have to go back to the drawing board – there is absolutely no point in us holding a referendum on a treaty France has rejected. However, if the French vote ‘oui’ – where does that leave us? We have had no real unbiased coverage of the constitution, we have a largely eurosceptic press full of nonsense stories about straight bananas – and we have a deeply unpopular Prime Minister. The battle for hearts and minds on this side of the channel is going to be a tough one.