Voters in the Irish Republic are poised to reject the Lisbon Treaty on the future of Europe when a referendum is held next week, a poll suggests.
Anti-Lisbon campaigners have surged ahead, overtaking the yes camp to double their previous support and make rejection of the treaty look likely. The survey for The Irish Times newspaper gave the no camp 35 per cent and the yes camp 30 per cent, with don't knows at 35 per cent.
The uncommitted may yet move towards a yes vote but it would take an unprecedented late swing for this to happen.
Ireland is the only EU country holding a public vote on the reform treaty and a no vote would throw the process into chaos. The other 26 members are using parliamentary votes to ratify the proposals – but Ireland is obliged to hold a referendum because it involves changing the constitution. All 27 countries must ratify the treaty, which is meant to streamline decision-making processes in the EU, for it to come into effect next year as planned.
The poll results are particularly shocking because almost all of the big guns in Irish politics, including the new Taoiseach Brian Cowen, have been campaigning feverishly for a yes vote.