The voters of the Republic of Ireland have rejected the Lisbon Treaty in a referendum. Already the cry has gone up that the "people have no right to do wrong", and that Britannia's sons have sailed in with their unclear sources of funding but this time on the anti-Treaty side.

Reactions from around Europe have been extraordinary. The scheme of attempting to deny a national electorate a vote on the content of the EU constitution after joining the Union continues apace; apparently the Irish must make do with a yes or no to unamendable laws decided a few hundred miles to the South-east, which benighted arrangement I seem to recall having been rejected in 1782.

Some are even going so far as to suggest the expulsion of the Republic of Ireland from the EU. You might need to not understand democracy to think this way, or to be French or something: when France's Fourth Republic was overthrown by the Algerian military in a coup d'état in 1957, colonies which did not adopt the Fifth Republic constitution were immediately expelled from the Empire.

What is confusing some people is that they wish the EU were a country in the same way as the United States, where people are prepared to accept country-wide democratic majorities. It is a simple matter of empirically determinable fact that no such sentiment exists for the EU: people are not prepared to accept EU-wide majoritarianism as binding. For a single tiny state to block the constitutional development of such a polity would be outrageous: in Australia, where constitutional referendums are routine, a combination of half the states is required to block an amendment. The EU just is not such a federation at present, so these people need to whiten their knuckles around the cool bars of reality.

The people, fit or unfit, wise or unwise, must rule. If that means the Irish rule the EU, so be it.

And the world did gaze in deep amaze at those fearless men but few, who fought the fight that freedom's light might shine throught the Foggy Dew.