Nigel Farage says Brexit wouldn’t change Anglo-Irish relationship

Ukip leader says UK exit from the EU would have no impact on trade or relations

Ukip leader Nigel Farage makes a closing speech at the end of the party’s annual conference in September. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Ukip leader Nigel Farage makes a closing speech at the end of the party’s annual conference in September. Photograph: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

 

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has said there would be no fundamental change to the relationship between Ireland and the UK should a forthcoming referendum lead to Britain’s exit from the EU.

In the run up to the recent general election, prime minister David Cameron succumbed to political pressure for a popular vote on whether the UK should remain a part of Europe.

Due to take place before the end of 2017, it has led to some concerns in Ireland as to the potential impact, particularly in economic terms.

However, Mr Farage dismissed any such fears, saying: “Trade-wise [the relationship would be] completely unchanged; in friendship terms, completely unchanged.”

Travel between the two countries would also remain free of any threat, he said, as it had been well established since 1921.

Speaking on The Late Late Show, the controversial politician said when he visits Ireland he finds people intrigued about why there is no equivalent to his party here.

“Sinn Féin were very, very anti-EU for a long, long time. That position appears to have softened. It’s a really odd situation that a country where Eurosceptic opinion is really strong doesn’t have a party dedicated to that,” he said.

On the same theme, Mr Farage expressed his concerns that despite indications of European reticence in Ireland, the narrative remained strongly in its favour.

“There has been this myth put about by the Irish media and the Irish media are slavishly pro-EU,” he said. “The myth is that Ireland loves the European Union, [that] it’s a very, very pro-EU country. Twice in the last 15 years the Irish people have voted no in referendums on European treaties and then been told: you got it wrong, you must do it again.

“I was involved in those referendums on Lisbon. I mean the second referendum was an absolute travesty.”

Last month the MEP – who failed to secure a seat in Westminster in the recent general election and whose party has only one sitting MP – said public concern over immigration had increased the chances of a so-called “Brexit”.

On Friday night he outlined his vision of a future Europe characterised by cooperation and friendship and in which there is a trade deal, “but what we don’t have, you know, [is] political union based in Brussels and I think the whole of Europe would be a happier, better and more prosperous place if we did that.”