The Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, is phlegmatic about warnings Northern Ireland could be destabilised and elements of the Belfast Agreement might have to be torn up in the case of ‘BREXIT’ and is reportedly preparing to campaign for us to leave the European Union.
Reports from London suggest she is among a number of Eurosceptic Cabinet Ministers, who will campaign against the Government in an in-out referendum expected later this year.
That’s despite warnings in a briefing paper, held by her Department, that the border between Londonderry and Donegal may be tightened in the event of BREXIT with implications for peace-building, and that citizens’ rights, freedom of movement, trade, market access, farm and fishing subsidies and gender equality legislation may all be adversely affected.
The paper, produced by academic experts from the Queen’s University, Belfast and University College Cork, also warns the Union between Great Britain and Northern Ireland may come under review.
Ms Villiers has been a member of the Eurosceptic Bruges Group since her days as an MEP over a decade ago.
The authors of ‘To Remain or Leave? Northern Ireland and the EU Referendum,’ pointed out that Northern Ireland is a net beneficiary of EU peace and structural funds and that opinions here will likely diverge strongly with the 40million English voters, including Ms Villiers, who will decide the matter.
It asks: “Will political stability in Northern Ireland be threatened as a consequence of a divisive vote (which is heavily weighted by an English desire to leave and contrasts with support in Northern Ireland to remain)? Will elements of the Belfast Agreement have to be reviewed?”