Belfast Telegraph

Tory peer Jonathan Caine: No-deal Brexit could lead to support for united Ireland

Lord Jonathan Caine said leaving without a deal would have a
Lord Jonathan Caine said leaving without a deal would have a "severe economic impact" on Northern Ireland

A Tory peer has warned that a no-deal Brexit will likely lead to a surge in support for Irish unity.

Lord Jonathan Caine, who was the Conservative's most senior Northern Ireland advisor for many years, said leaving without a deal would have a "severe economic impact" on Northern Ireland.

Speaking to the Irish News, he said he voted to remain in the 2016 referendum as he thought Brexit would upset the peace secured by the Good Friday Agreement.

"In the end I voted remain because as a Conservative I will always advocate stability and order over the unknown and I’m not sure anything I’ve seen over the past few years would make me change that view," he said.

“I was also deeply concerned about the impact that leave would have on what I like to call the delicate and precious equilibrium that was established by the 1998 agreement.

"In particular, as someone who believes in the union, I was primarily concerned about the impact this would have on nationalism and ultimately therefore on political stability in Northern Ireland and across the island of Ireland.”

The former Northern Ireland Office spad was sacked in July when Boris Johnson became Conservative leader. He was made a Lord by David Camerson in 2016.

He also admitted that not enough attention was given to the Irish border issue in the lead up to the referendum and said it has brought about a new conversation about a united Ireland.

“If we get this wrong and there is a severe economic impact on Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland then there is a possibility that support for a United Ireland will increase – the onus is on the UK government and the EU to get this right,” he said.

“I think what helps the union and Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom is political stability within Northern Ireland – that means devolved government, power sharing and both parts of community take responsibility for governing but Brexit has led more people than I’d like to question the union.”

While Lord Caine said he did not support a Northern Ireland-only backstop, he does not view the controversial policy as many of those in his party do.

“I didn’t see the backstop like many of my colleagues did as some kind of EU trick to keep us locked into the Customs Union and EU forever," he said.

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