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2 Ex-Premiers Oppose Brexit
International

2 Ex-Premiers Oppose Brexit

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

They suggested a Leave vote may reopen Scotland’s independence issue and put Northern Ireland’s “future at risk” by threatening its current stability, BBC reported.

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, Major and 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.

Major 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 “destabilizing the complicated and multilayered constitutional settlement that underpins the present stability in Northern Ireland”—a situation that in his words would be a “historic mistake”.

“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,” Major said.

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

 

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