Sunday 15 September 2019

'Brexit' poses 'significant risk' to North - UK ambassador

Dominick Chilcott
Dominick Chilcott
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

A British exit from the European Union could pose "significant risks to political stability in Northern Ireland" and have major implications for Anglo-Irish relations, according to the British ambassador to Ireland.

Dominick Chilcott said reforms that David Cameron's UK government was seeking from Europe were achievable. If these were secured, the planned referendum on Britain's European Union membership was eminently winnable.

The comments were included in a speech at the annual conference of the business group ISME at the RDS in Dublin.

Limits on the rights of EU migrants, as sought by Britain, needed to be discussed because of unintended consequences that had stemmed from Europe's free movement of labour, said Mr Chilcott.

Discussion of the topic of immigration had been sidelined for fear of being deemed racist, he said.

However, the ambassador said it "is unhealthy to sweep under the carpet concerns regarding immigration".

Other concessions sought by Britain included an acknowledgment that the EU was a "multi-currency" zone, Mr Chilcott added.

However, former Taoiseach John Bruton accused Mr Cameron of timing his EU campaign badly. The British prime minister would get more support for his reforms if he did more to solve the refugee and migrant crisis and the continued debt burden, Mr Bruton said.

Mr Cameron has put restricting benefits for migrants at the heart of his demands, a move which Mr Bruton suggested would carry little support in Dublin, with Britain still a popular destination for Irish workers.

Irish Independent

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