Leading article

A vote to Leave EU would trigger economic uncertainty

With just one week to go, both sides in the Brexit referendum have intensified their campaigns, swamping voters in a deluge of statistics, opinion, analysis, claims, counter claims and dire predictions.

The debate has become increasingly bitter, especially within the Conservative Party which has been tearing itself apart over the issue of staying or leaving the European Union.

Even if David Cameron manages to secure a Remain vote he will face a battle to hold onto his job as the Tories try to rebuild after civil war.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, has been strangely detached from the fray, only becoming galvanised in recent days as opinion polls suggested the Leave campaign had gained significant ground and there was a very real possibility that the UK could vote to leave the EU on June 23.

In the closing days of this debate, it is essential leading figures in the Remain camp clearly and robustly put forward the case for staying in.

This is a crucial decision which will have profound repercussions for years to come yet the discussion has been dominated, in England at least, by the immigration issue.

More needs to be done to counter the Leave narrative on this issue and to push the likely impact of a Brexit in terms of the prolonged economic pain that would follow.

In Northern Ireland we are also facing the prospect of a return to border checks, which would be disastrous for the free movement of people and goods.

Despite his secretary of state's insistence that this is not going to happen, Mr Cameron told the House of Commons yesterday that in the event of a Brexit, there would either be new border controls or checks on people as they left Northern Ireland to travel to Britain.

Tony Blair, John Major and Enda Kenny have all visited the north in recent days to warn of the dangers of a Leave vote next Thursday.

Former Irish president Mary McAleese has added her voice, claiming a Brexit would cause turmoil and radically alter relations between Britain and Ireland.

Like the Taoiseach, Mrs McAleese is urging the large number of Irish citizens living in Britain to vote Remain and clearly they have an important role to play.

The bottom line is that the Leave campaign cannot offer any certainty over how a Brexit will affect families, jobs, wages, business, trade and services in the months and years ahead.

If anything, the UK would be plunged into a political and constitutional crisis with unpredictable consequences as the UK tries to negotiate new arrangements with Europe while dealing with upheaval on a number of fronts.

It is an enormous risk, fraught with danger.

For people in Northern Ireland, the only way to ensure economic stability and maintain free movement north and south is to vote Remain.

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