Brexit may seriously destabilise Northern Ireland - British Labour MP

Pat McFadden: Vote to leave EU likely to spur second vote on Scottish independence

 British prime minister David Cameron  is hoping to get a deal on EU reform by February to enable a UK  vote on whether to stay in the EU later in 2016. Photograph: Andy Rain /EPA

British prime minister David Cameron is hoping to get a deal on EU reform by February to enable a UK vote on whether to stay in the EU later in 2016. Photograph: Andy Rain /EPA

 

A British exit from the European Union could have a profoundly destabilising effect on Northern Ireland with incalculable political implications, a leading British Labour MP will warn on Wednesday.

Pat McFadden, co-chair of the pro-EU Labour In group of MPs, will tell the Institute of International and European Affairs (IIEA) in Dublin that a vote to leave the EU is likely to precipitate a second referendum on Scottish independence.

“What would the effect on Northern Ireland be if its neighbour to the south is in the EU but it is not, and Scotland, the part of the UK with which it has the closest links, is pushing for independence in part so it can remain part of the EU while Northern Ireland is not?” he asks.

“The economic and other implications of such a situation are unknown.  But at the very least they pose a set of questions that are not there now.”

Sacked this month

Mr McFadden, both of whose parents came from Co Donegal, was shadow Europe minister for two years until Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn sacked him this month. Born in the Scottish town of Paisley, he has represented Wolverhampton South East since 2005.

He will tell the IIEA on Wednesday that much of Britain’s antipathy towards the EU can be traced to the uneven impact of globalisation, with London a major beneficiary, while other parts of the country pay the price.

“For many people in parts of the country such as I represent, globalisation did not seem an unalloyed good.  It looked like a force that took work away and brought competition for the work that remained.  It could seem like a competition that the local population was not winning,” he says.

“Into this sense of loss and concern about economic change stepped Ukip with a message that aligned EU membership with immigration and the accusation that the political elite did not care about those who felt they were losing out from change.”