Border controls will be brought back between Northern Ireland and the Republic if the United Kingdom votes to exit the European Union, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned.
Speaking in Amsterdam last night, Mr Kenny urged UK voters to back a referendum to stay in the EU, saying the EU would be “very weakened” if they decided to quit.
Mr Kenny, who is on a trade promotion visit to the Netherlands and Germany, also said a British departure “would also mean probably that the Scottish people would look for another independence vote”.
British prime minister David Cameron on Tuesday said he would be "forever very grateful" to Mr Kenny for the support he offered last month when the UK leader outlined his demands to fellow EU leaders.
A UK exit would cause “ complications” for Ireland, said Mr Kenny.
“If Britain were to leave, we would be looking at border controls in Ireland – despite the fact that we have a Common Travel Area [agreement],” he said.
However, Mr Kenny urged Mr Cameron to make his arguments to fellow EU leaders in a conciliatory fashion, saying: "Europe is all about compromise at the end of the day.
“If you change the argument the other way and say if we make changes at European level in the way we do business, red tape, bureaucracy, the single market and all these things, [then] everybody benefits.
“It’s not a case of having one victor here. The arguments are sufficiently strong in the interests of Europe. All the countries can benefit,” said Mr Kenny, who travels to Dusseldorf today.
He defended Mr Cameron’s decision to allow his ministers to campaign for a UK exit while still remaining in the cabinet, saying it was “pragmatic”.
Mr Cameron was forced to make the decision after senior ministers, including Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers, indicated they would consider resigning if forced to campaign to stay in the EU.
“If Minister X or Minister Y were to say ‘look I know I’m the minister but I’m still going to campaign against it, if you’re going to fire me, fire me’ . . . So I think that’s pragmatic what he has done here,” the Taoiseach said.