Monday 25 June 2018

Tony Blair 'passionately opposed' to Brexit and warns of its threat to peace process

Tony Blair attends an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Tony Blair attends an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Tony Blair and Bill Clinton hold hands an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

Shona Murray

Tony Blair wants to stop Brexit; as he sees it as a major threat to the UK, and the peace process.

To a rapturous applause from the auditorium as Queen’s University, Belfast on the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the former UK Prime Minister said:

Tony Blair and Bill Clinton hold hands an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Tony Blair and Bill Clinton hold hands an event to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

“I’m passionately opposed to Brexit; I think it is a profound mistake.

“And I hope it may still not happen, but that's for a different day", he said.

In the meantime, work diplomatic efforts “require real focus and hard work, because we cannot return to a hard border", he said.

It will be “disastrous for the agreement and for the relationships between the republic and the UK and therefore the people of Northern Ireland.”

As one of the key negotiators of the Good Friday Agreement, Tony Blair poured scorn on Brexiteers who refused to recognise the challenge Brexit poses for peace and the future in the North.

“People who are either disdainful of the challenge or dismiss it, come on!

“We should our best to circumvent it”, he said.

Several Tory MP’s as well as senior figures like the British Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson have dismissed the idea that there would be a threat to the Good Friday Agreement because of Brexit.

Mr Blair also pointed out that relations between Dublin and London won’t be as close, as the frequent meetings between government ministers and Taoiseach and Prime Minister which took place at various EU Council meetings in Brussels, will cease.

“Brexit will pose a challenge because for the last 100 years, the Republic of Ireland and the UK has been in the same relationship with Europe all the time.

“If Brexit goes ahead, from the end of next March we are going to be in a difficult relationship for the first time.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern agreed with Mr Blair’s point, and said the regular meetings at Brussels-based events were crucial for Irish –British relations.

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