Belfast Telegraph

Every citizen should get a copy of Brexit deal and be given a vote on it: Lord Adonis

Labour peer Lord Adonis with Derry City and Strabane mayor John Boyle and local Chamber of Commerce president Jennifer McKeever in the Guildhall yesterday
Labour peer Lord Adonis with Derry City and Strabane mayor John Boyle and local Chamber of Commerce president Jennifer McKeever in the Guildhall yesterday
Professor Deirdre Heenan
George Hamilton
Donna Deeney

By Donna Deeney

Labour peer and outspoken opponent of Brexit Lord Adonis has called for a second vote modelled on the Good Friday Agreement, where everyone in the UK is sent a copy of the Government's final deal.

The former Minister of Transport met business leaders in Londonderry and spoke about the campaign to reverse Brexit, 'The People's Vote: Why we must have a say on the final Brexit deal'.

He said the difficulties in policing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic, as feared by the PSNI Chief Constable, and the lack of clarity on which the initial vote was taken, are among a plethora of reasons for a second poll.

He said: "I have spent a good deal of time in Ireland in recent months, to understand the implications of Brexit for our western neighbour.

"Northern Ireland, too, is largely transformed since the end of the Troubles.

"As I travelled in and between Belfast, Derry and the borderlands, people kept pointing out to me where the checkpoints were, where the border posts were, where the Army helicopters used to land, where people were killed by bombs and by booby traps.

"Now, the roads are free-flowing, the border is detectable only by different colour road signs, the Army has gone and in Derry city centre the barracks are being converted into cafes and nightclubs.

"The Chief Constable of the PSNI said that any different customs and tariff regime between north and south would be a smugglers' charter, and smugglers and paramilitaries have always gone hand-in-hand on the Irish border."

Calling for a second referendum, Lord Adonis said people deserved to have all the information about what it would mean to leave the European Union.

He said: "I think the people should decide on what they think of the Brexit deal, crucially they couldn't decide two years ago because there was no deal.

"People in Northern Ireland have told me when they had the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, every citizen in Northern Ireland was sent a copy of the Good Friday Agreement.

"What should happen in the case of Brexit is that Theresa May's deal should be sent to every citizen and then people like me can also put the case of why we should stay in. That couldn't be done two years ago, because there was nothing to send to people."

Ulster University's Professor Deirdre Heenan, who attended the event, said: "I think Andrew Adonis was quite right in what he said about people not knowing what they were voting for (in EU referendum).

"How could they know, when David Cameron had no idea how this would pan out? What has become clear is that people were told lies or were misinformed about the implications of leaving the European Union.

"I don't know about the idea of everyone getting a copy of the final Brexit deal, but I do know that people need to be informed as to what the implications will be."

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