London may become ‘casino town for sheiks and oligarchs’ after Brexit

Chair of European Movement NI says DUP role in UK government could bring ‘softer’ Brexit

Vanessa Glynn, chairwoman of European Movement Scotland, said it sometimes looked like the UK was “in the grip of an almighty nervous breakdown”

Vanessa Glynn, chairwoman of European Movement Scotland, said it sometimes looked like the UK was “in the grip of an almighty nervous breakdown”

 

London could become a casino town for Arab sheiks and Russian oligarchs once the UK leaves the European Union, a conference has heard.

Ian Parsley, chairman of the European Movement Northern Ireland, said a hard Brexit could mean the end of the NHS and an attempt to “deliberately beat” Ireland on corporation tax.

“You could end up with London becoming some sort of a casino-type town for Arab sheiks and Russian oligarchs where there’s greater regional imbalance...If you live in somewhere like Northern Ireland that is not a very attractive prospect.”

Mr Parsley told the European Movement conference on the future of the EU that the DUP would attempt to extract concessions for Northern Ireland in its discussions with the Conservative Party on forming a minority government.

He said it would not try to change UK social and environmental policy, and probably would not try to change things “that just happened to suit” the unionist community in Northern Ireland.

“They will bizarrely and interestingly be interested in a soft Border...we’re in the bizarre position in which the DUP could actually lead to a soft Brexit.”

However, Hans-Hartwig Blomeier from the German political foundation Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, said he would bet on a hard Brexit, which would see the UK leave both the EU’s Customs Union and Common Market.

Miles apart

He said the end of March 2019 remained the date for the UK’s departure from the EU, and he did not think there was going to be an extension.

“The positions are miles apart. The timeframe is so tight I can’t see a deal being made on time...Under what rules are you going to play the extra time?”

He said Brexit was not a major issue in German political debate and was certainly not going to be a major topic in the country’s election campaign. “We care, but not that much.”

Vanessa Glynn, chairwoman of European Movement Scotland, said it sometimes looked like the UK was “in the grip of an almighty nervous breakdown” and was “politically and socially dysfunctional”.

She claimed British prime minister Theresa May had attempted to “recentralise” control over the devolved administrations, but it was now essential that a new approach was taken to Brexit negotiations.

Really scary

James MacCleary, European Movement UK campaign director, said the idea of a “closed Border” between the Republic and North was “really scary for people” in Britain. “The idea of cutting off a country that we consider to be so close to us is actually quite jarring for UK citizens.”

Mr MacCleary said the perception remained in Britain that the EU was responsible for “floods of immigrants” and impacting on the housing stock and health service. “That perception hasn’t gone away. It’s very important to bear that in mind.”

He said some MPs from all parties who would not even use the phrase “soft Brexit” for fear of being deselected were now asking “can we achieve something so soft that we don’t even really leave but we sort of do?”