Cable says EU exit 'improbable'
The "nightmare scenario" of the UK exiting the EU would create a "green wall" barrier for trade across Ireland, the UK’s business secretary, Vince Cable, warned at a conference in Dublin today.
Mr Cable said that while an EU departure was "very highly improbable" for the UK, it had become a "scenario possibility" in the wake of prime minister David Cameron’s speech yesterday in which he promised a referendum on the issue.
"The significance of the debate is enormously important," Mr Cable told an audience at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce conference, acknowledging that Mr Cameron's move had created considerable uncertainty.
The business secretary worked hard to play down the likelihood of the UK leaving the EU, saying all three main party leaders in the country were in favour of retaining EU membership
"It’s very obvious in the case of the UK where we need to be," he said, acknowledging however that Irish experience proved that referendums were not always predictable.
"The die is now cast and we will minimise the areas of uncertainty that have been created," said Mr Cable.
In response to questions from the media, Mr Cable said a vote for the UK to leave the EU “might conceivably” create the odd foreign direct investment opportunity for the Republic but added that it would be “completely wrong” to believe Ireland would benefit if the UK were to leave in light of existing trade between the two countries.
He declined to “dramatise” the particular problems created for the business climate in the North as a result of the referendum proposal but admitted that “it doesn’t help them”.