Ex-Taoiseach urges rethink

Former Irish leader calls for second UK vote on EU

vote-remainThe former prime minister of Ireland, John Bruton, says British voters should be given a second vote to rethink the decision to leave the European Union.

Mr Bruton said it would “solve a lot of problems” if the Brexit vote was reversed.

In a BBC Scotland interview, Mr Bruton suggested voters be given the chance to reconsider their decision once the terms of departure become clear.

His opinions echo those of former UK prime ministers, Tony Blair and John Major who have warned of the consequences of leaving the EU.

Mr Bruton said that remaining in the EU would be better for Britain, Ireland and the EU and “would save a lot of money”.

He said Brexit will cut UK exports to Ireland by 28%.

His views however are unlikely to sway Downing Street which insists there will be no second referendum and that the Brexit vote means the UK will leave the European Union

Mr Bruton was Ireland’s Taoiseach – or prime minister – between 1994-1997 and later served as the EU’s ambassador to the United States.

He said: “We would prefer if the people of the United Kingdom changed their minds and decided that after all they’re better off in the European Union than out of it.

“It would certainly solve a lot of problems. It would relieve a lot of difficulties for Europe. It would relieve a lot of difficulties for Ireland.

“And I think it would be better economically for the people of the United Kingdom.”

He expressed concern that Brexit will require border checks to be reintroduced between Northern Ireland and the Republic, damaging the peace process.

If Brexit goes ahead, Mr Bruton said it would take longer than two years for the UK to negotiate a new trading relationship with the EU and that an “interim arrangement” would be required.

Mr Bruton also cast doubt on the possibility of Scotland staying in the European single market, if the UK as a whole leaves.

“I don’t see how you can have several different markets with different sets of rules and different arbitrators in different parts of what’s currently the United Kingdom.

“I just don’t see how that can be done. I think it’s technically, administratively and politically nearly impossible” he said.

Mr Bruton was speaking to BBC Scotland ahead of a two day visit to Dublin by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

> A think-tank plans to take legal action over whether the government can take Britain out of the European Economic Area (EEA) and leave the single market as part of its exit from the European Union, the BBC reported.

It said the group British Influence believed the government could be acting outside the law if it did not get a clear legal opinion as to whether Britain’s membership of the EEA automatically ended along with its membership of the EU.

“We consider that … they have an obligation to seek urgent clarification in the courts. So we are going to be petitioning for a judicial review,” the BBC quoted Jonathan Lis, the deputy director of British Influence, as saying.


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