Brexit “could lead to united Ireland in a decade”

Posted By: December 17, 2019

Tony Blair’s former chief of staff Jonathan Powell.

Claire Simpson. Irish News. 17 December 2019

Brexit could lead to a united Ireland within a decade, Tony Blair’s former chief of staff has said.

Jonathan Powell said the introduction of an “Irish Sea border” as part of prime minister Boris Johnson’s deal will lead to a renewed focus on Irish unity.

As a senior member of Blair’s Labour administration, Mr. Powell took a lead role in the negotiations that led to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

He predicted that the UK’s exit from the European Union will lead to wider constitutional change.

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“Once you put a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland’s going to be part of a united Ireland for economic purposes,” he told the BBC.

“That will increase the tendency toward a united Ireland for political reasons, too.

“I think there is a good chance there will be a united Ireland within 10 years.”

The SNP’s success in the general election has prompted calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland cannot be held in the union “against its will”.

“If the UK is to continue it can only be by consent,” she said.

“If Boris Johnson is confident in the case for the union he should be confident enough to make that case and allow people to decide.”

However, senior Conservative Michael Gove said there would not be a second referendum.

He told the Sophy Ridge programme on Sky that “we were told in 2014 that that would be a choice for a generation – we are not going to have an independence referendum in Scotland”. END.