Ireland ‘not prepared’ to cope with reunification says expert
The former Conservative MP has slammed calls for Northern Ireland to hold a vote on forming a united Ireland in the wake of Brexit. Sir David said the Irish Government would be unable to deliver on reunification between the Republic and Northern Ireland given all the issues that would be involved. Politicians from Sinn Fein have been calling for a referendum to be held on the status of Northern Ireland and these demands have increased in the face of polling showing less than half of Northern Ireland supported remaining in the Union.
Sir David told an online discussion on Brexit, organised by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, that the Irish government was not “remotely prepared” for the task of reunification.
He said: “I don’t think the Republic of Ireland is remotely prepared for what Irish reunification would bring.
“Let’s say you had a 52 to 48 majority in a Northern Irish referendum for Irish reunification
“There would be some many issues, not just fiscal issues but issues about what happens to Dublin’s duty then to be impartial, what does respecting the British identity of a very large proportion of its population mean in those hypothetical circumstances.
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“So I mean I still think the most likely outcome, even if there were a border poll I don’t actually see it happening in this parliament, I think it is potentially very destabilizing.
“But I think it would end up with a fairly narrow Unionist victory at the moment,” he added.
It comes after The Sunday Times commissioned a series of surveys across the four nations of the United Kingdom to gauge attitudes towards the union.
In Northern Ireland, it found 47 percent want to remain in the UK, with 42 percent in favour of a united Ireland and a significant proportion – 11 percent – undecided.
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Asked if they support a referendum on a united Ireland within the next five years, 51 percent said Yes compared to 44 percent who are against the idea.
On BBC Question time the leader of the main Unionist party in Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster of the DUP, was forced to rule out a border poll on a united Ireland.
The First Minister put forward the case for Northern Ireland staying in the Union, she argued that on a “rational and logical level” people in Northern Ireland would choose to remain in the UK.
Ms Foster’s comments came after former Chancellor George Osborne claimed Northern Ireland is “already heading for the exit door” out of the UK after Brexit.
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Mr Osborne blasted the “short-sighted” unionist politicians in a recent column.
The former Chancellor is now the editor of the Evening Standard and previously campaigned alongside former Prime Minister David Cameron for Britain to remain in the EU.
But he claimed the rest of the UK “will not care” about Northern Ireland’s departure.
Mr Osborne wrote: “Northern Ireland is already heading for the exit door.”
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