‘EU exit could split UK’

Pakistan Observer - - INTERNATIONAL -

LON­DON—Sir John Ma­jor and Tony Blair warned a vote to leave the EU will “jeop­ar­dise the unity” of the UK as they cam­paigned to­gether in North­ern Ire­land.

They sug­gested a Leave vote may re-open Scot­land’s in­de­pen­dence is­sue and put North­ern Ire­land’s “future at risk” by threat­en­ing its cur­rent sta­bil­ity. But North­ern Ire­land Sec­re­tary Theresa Vil­liers said sup­port for the peace process there was “rock solid”.

She said it would be “highly ir­re­spon­si­ble” to sug­gest oth­er­wise. North­ern Ire­land first min­is­ter and DUP leader Ar­lene Foster said she found the in­ter­ven­tion “rather sad”.

She told jour­nal­ists “I do find it rather dis­grace­ful for two prime min­is­ters who know full well the im­por­tance of the peace process here in North­ern Ire­land to come over here and sug­gest that a vote in a par­tic­u­lar di­rec­tion is go­ing to un­der­mine that”.

The for­mer Con­ser­va­tive and Labour prime min­is­ters, who were in­stru­men­tal in the North­ern Ire­land peace process in the 1990s, hit the cam­paign trail there as Re­main cam­paign­ers at­tempted to make the future of the UK a key ques­tion in the 23 June ref­er­en­dum on EU mem­ber­ship.

It was a mes­sage echoed by for­mer US pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton in an ar­ti­cle for the New States­man, who said he wor­ried for North­ern Ire­land’s “future pros­per­ity and peace” if the UK votes to leave. Chan­cel­lor Ge­orge Os­borne will travel to Scot­land amid warn­ings that if the UK voted to leave the EU, but Scot­land opted to stay in, it could trig­ger another ref­er­en­dum on Scot­land’s future in the UK.

Leave-sup­port­ing Con­ser­va­tives have at­tacked the claims - say­ing they buy into the SNP’s “bo­gus nar­ra­tive” on sepa­ra­tion. But in a joint ap­pear­ance, Sir John and Mr Blair - for­mer po­lit­i­cal ri­vals who led the coun­try be­tween 1990 and 1997 and 1997 and 2007 re­spec­tively - warned that the “unity of the UK it­self is on the bal­lot pa­per” in two weeks time.

Sir John said there was a “se­ri­ous risk” of another in­de­pen­dence ref­er­en­dum and, if Scot­land found it­self out of the EU, he could “en­vis­age a dif­fer­ent re­sult” to the one in 2014.

He ar­gued that a vote to leave the EU would also risk “desta­bil­is­ing the com­pli­cated and multi-lay­ered con­sti­tu­tional set­tle­ment that un­der­pins the present sta­bil­ity in North­ern Ire­land” a sit­u­a­tion that in his words would be a “his­toric mis­take”.

He said: “It would throw all the pieces of the con­sti­tu­tional jig­saw up into the air again, and no-one could be cer­tain where they would land.”

Ire­land would be “on the other side of the ta­ble” to Bri­tain in its post Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions, he added.

Mr Blair said North­ern Ire­land’s pros­per­ity and its po­lit­i­cal ar­range­ments could be neg­a­tively af­fected by a vote to leave. Leave cam­paign­ers say the free travel area be­tween Ire­land and the UK would be re­tained but Mr Blair said this would be “dif­fi­cult if not im­pos­si­ble” be­cause checks would ei­ther be needed across the bor­der be­tween the two coun­tries.

Oth­er­wise, he said: “It would make a non­sense of their en­tire ar­gu­ment for leav­ing which is all to do with the free move­ment of peo­ple in the Euro­pean Union.” “We un­der­stand that, al­though to­day North­ern Ire­land is more sta­ble and more pros­per­ous than ever, that sta­bil­ity is poised on care­fully con­structed foun­da­tions,” he said.—Agen­cies

A dam­aged po­lice sta­tion is seen af­ter a car bomb at­tack in Midyat in south­east­ern Mardin prov­ince, Turkey.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.