Debate on EU membership hots up across the nations

Northern Ireland MPs clash over the implications of Brexit


The new leader of Northern Ireland’s SDLP paryt has warned that a vote to take the UK out of the European Union would be ‘devastating’ for Northern Ireland.

Speaking ahead of an address delivered in Brussels last night, Colum Eastwood warned that Brexit would represent ‘a threat to farming families, a threat to our business community and a threat to our exports. In the case of Northern Ireland it is also a threat to the multiple arrangements and agreements between the islands of Ireland and Britain.’

“There is a huge amount at stake.”

Expanding upon his concerns about the impact withdrawal from the EU would have on the various agreements between London, Belfast and Dublin, Eastwood continued by pleading with the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny to stand up for Northern Ireland. He explained:

“A Brexit would undermine and destabilise the fabric of successive Anglo-Irish Agreements. It would undermine and destabilise our North-South institutions. It would resurrect borders and resurrect barriers for business.

“As co-guarantor of those Anglo-Irish Agreements, the Taoiseach has a role and a duty to represent the interests of the North on this issue.”

“The selfish and sectional interests of some in the Tory party”, Eastwood conclude “cannot be the only voice steering this decision and debate.”

The SDLP leader’s comments came as a former finance minister at Stormont has argued that Northern Ireland could be £540 million better off outside the EU.

Speaking yesterday, DUP MP Sammy Wilson, who is campaigning to leave the EU, argued that the yearly block grant provided to Stormont by Whitehall would benefit from the savings the UK could make on its financial contribution to the EU.

He suggested that in such a scenario, Northern Ireland would in theory be entitled to 3 per cent (£540m) of the £18bn that the UK pays into Europe as a result of the Barnett Formula.

Wilson’s comments stand in stark contrast to research produced for the Northern Ireland Assembly’s Enterprise Committee last year, which found that the Northern Ireland economy would lose around €1 billion per annum following a Brexit and face a 3 per cent decline in GDP.

In Scotland meanwhile, the apparent unity of the SNP in supporting EU membership has been broken thanks to the intervention of its former leader, Jim Sillars.

Expressing concerns at the failure of the party to have a proper debate over membership of the EU, Sillars commented:

“I’ll do what I can among members of the SNP to persuade them the party is wrong and they should take an entirely different position to that urged upon them.

“The great problem with the SNP membership is the hangover from the referendum. If you have the temerity to criticise anything you are described as disloyal. A lot of folk will have to break out of that.”

He also observed that he has ‘never bought’ the SNP leadership’s claim that if Scotland voted to remain and the UK overall wanted to leave, demand for independence would rise.

“This is the love affair with the EU,” has said. “I don’t have a love affair with the EU. If the UK comes out of the EU then fine.”

He continued:

“That should allow those in favour of independence to look at alternatives to the EU, which keeps telling us to get stuffed.

“The difficulty is that because of the SNP position over the years and particularly the dominant position they have got, there has been no debate in Scotland or examination of the issues involved.”

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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20 Responses to “Debate on EU membership hots up across the nations”

  1. David Lindsay

    Tune in to Going Underground on RT at various times tomorrow, to hear John McDonnell​ say that he would not support staying in the EU if TTIP were still on the table. It is inconceivable that this is not also the view of Jeremy Corbyn​. And it is inconceivable that David Cameron might take TTIP off the table.

  2. Bradley B.

    Chaos ahead.

  3. Bradley B.

    Brexit, Scottish breakaway, resurgence of NI identity politics, Euro migration crisis.

  4. Mike Stallard

    And, according to M. Juncker and Guy Verhofstadt and the Spinelli Group and Andrew Duff all the more reason to make all 28 member states join the integrated Eurozone as quickly as possible.

  5. kitten's

    The EU is a neoliberal political ideology; I don’t support neoliberalism so I support Brexit.

  6. Kate HA

    What happened to national identity in Scotland and Ireland? Who are these self-interested people insisting that Ireland and Scotland, Wales and England, should bow to the abolition of National Identity and multicultural race replacement – historically the agenda of all totalitarian governments?

    For the uninformed i.e. the majority of voters, the EU remains something ‘got together’ by people hoping to avoid future wars in Europe. Not so. Nation states apart from a few HONEST dissenters e.g. Hungary, Poland, the Chech rep, et al,have been and are again in the process of shocking betrayal by their politicians. Get informed. Read: and

    “What need you, being come to sense,

    But fumble in a greasy till

    And add the halfpence to the pence


    Yet they were of a different kind,

    The names that stilled your childish play,

    They have gone about the world like wind,

    But little time had they to pray

    For whom the hangman’s rope was spun,

    And what, God help us, could they save?
    [Was it] For this that all that blood was shed,


    They weighed so lightly what they gave.

    But let them be, they’re dead and gone,

    They’re with O’Leary in the grave.
    (September 1913 – WB Yeats)

  7. Bradley B.

    That made no sense.

  8. Kate HA

    Really? One perhaps hopes (in vain) for intellectual ‘width’ but, such incomprehension confirms my thesis. The argument ‘for’ further EU political ‘union’ is based solely on money/economics/consumerism and FEAR that such recently achieved states of Being might be lost.

    It ignores individualism i.e. separate ‘national’ identities, national histories and all that we have learned from Enlightenment thinking. Ergo, the plan for a political ‘union’ of disparate identities and cultures ignores all we have learned from anthropology, philosophy – specifically that of Being in the World – national psychologies, tradition and most importantly, history.

    This is not an argument for narrow ‘nationalism’ but instead for patriotism and hard-won national freedoms.

    George Orwell who experienced the totalitarianism of both Fascism and Communism was in a position to ‘warn’ future generations. I recommend:

    George Orwell
    Notes on Nationalism

    “By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly — and this is much more important — I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognising no other duty than that of advancing its interests.

    Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved.

    By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally.

    Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

    The agenda for a totalitarian Europe ruled by bureaucrats eroding the concept of the individual’s RIGHT to CHOOSE “a particular place and way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people(s)” connects precisely with ‘September 1913’ when Yeats sought to remind ALL the people of Ireland of a time (1798) when Catholics and Protestants stood together FOR Orwell’s vision of ‘patriotism’.

    If we join a Kafka’s ‘Castle’ of totalitarian Europe, “all that blood” and every subsequent ‘stand’ for an individualistic Being in the World has been for nothing. We become an island of “Europeans”, a meaningless designation placed on robots dictated to, in every aspect of life, by people who know NOTHING of our (often) highly individualistic concepts of personal values and shared traditions.

    We become a people without any right to guard our own borders against the logically alien cultures which the EU plans to import into our future state of mongrelism and obedience.

  9. Chasityrupchurch1

    that this is not also the view of Jerey Coryn​. And it is inconcevable that avid Cmeron

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