Brexit

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern urge confirmatory vote on Brexit

Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern sign the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. Picture by Dan Chung

TONY Blair and Bertie Ahern have made a joint call for a second EU referendum, claiming a no-deal Brexit with the risk of a hard border poses a "serious threat" to both the Good Friday Agreement and the union.

The two former leaders, both signatories to the 1998 peace accord, said there should be a confirmatory vote on whatever emerges from the Brexit process in Westminster and that Theresa May should "take the lead in that process".

Their call comes just days after EU leaders agreed to delay Brexit until October 31.

The two former premiers point to a growing discussion across Ireland about the potential for unification.

"You cannot walk around the island of Ireland without being asked about the future of a united Ireland – and that has resulted from the position on the border taken by Brexiteers," they wrote in a piece which appeared yesterday in both The Irish Times and The Guardian.

"It is precisely because of such issues as the border that there should be a confirmatory vote on whatever now emerges from the Brexit process in parliament."

Mr Blair and Mr Ahern describe the north-south frontier as a "metaphor for the entire negotiation".

"It is not possible for the UK to have frictionless trade with the EU if it remains outside the single market, so the question is how much friction is compatible with the Belfast Agreement, and that in turn defines any Brexit agreement that will pass through parliament," they said.

Arguing that the variety of Brexit deals debated, coupled with promises made ahead of the 2016 referendum by those advocating leaving the EU, means "any agreement is unlikely to be what the public voted for".

Therefore, the leaders argue, the people of the UK should have the "final say".

"They should be asked if now, knowing all that they do, they still wish to proceed, on whatever basis is agreed by government and parliament."

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