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Mandelson to square up to Euro-sceptic Hannon in Brexit debate

By John Mulgrew

Published 17/05/2016

Crossing swords: Daniel Hannan
Crossing swords: Daniel Hannan
Crossing swords: Peter Mandelson

Former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson will go head-to-head with Euro-sceptic MEP Daniel Hannan during a major Brexit debate in Belfast.

Lord Mandelson has already warned a UK exit from the EU could result in "renewed sectarianism" which could put jobs and peace at risk.

He has said the EU has been central to the peace process.

And he has also warned that Brexit could lead to new border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic, setting back peace process achievements.

He will face-off next month against Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, who is a leading critic of the EU.

Mr Hannan is the author of Why Vote Leave, and earlier this year told a pro-Brexit event how he believes there has been an ongoing shift of financial power from the Atlantic to the Pacific in contrast to a steady decline in the EU's contribution to global economic growth. The debate has been organised by Manufacturing NI.

The organisation's chief executive, Stephen Kelly, said: "Earlier this year we conducted a survey of our members and the issue of the EU referendum was the number one concern for manufacturing companies.

"Available analysis shows Northern Ireland would be most impacted by the result of this referendum, and many of the 500-plus members of Manufacturing NI voiced deep concerns both over the impact of a possible 'leave' outcome and also as a result of the ongoing uncertainty which the referendum is creating.

"While some members instinctively felt either for or against the referendum, they all felt that it was difficult to navigate the claim and counter-claim to make a reasoned decision. This event will hopefully go some way towards providing that clarity."

He welcomed the two political giants, who will both bring strongly opposing views on whether the UK will benefit, or be hindered, by leaving the EU.

"We're also pleased to be able to offer members the opportunity to hear from Daniel Hannan, MEP who literally wrote the book on why he believes we should leave," he said.

"Former head of the European Commission Belfast office, Denis Kennedy, will offer a local and international analysis, whilst Dr Thia Hennessy is a respected economist who will offer an all-island analysis of the implications of leaving the EU."

The event will take place at the office of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners on June 3.

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