Northern Ireland news

Eddie Izzard: Comedian urges Belfast audience to vote 'remain' in EU referendum

Sammy Wilson and Eddie Izzard at a Brexit debate at Methodist College, Belfast. Picture by Declan Roughan

COMEDIAN and activist Eddie Izzard last night urged voters in the north to opt to remain in the European Union.

The pro-EU campaigner, who is taking part in a 31-date tour of the UK ahead of the referendum vote on June 23, said he wanted young people to share the opportunities he has had, including cheap air-travel and free movement across the bloc.

Mr Izzard, who spent several years living in Bangor, Co Down, as a child, said a Brexit may lead to the establishment of customs posts along the border.

Speaking before a debate with pro-Brexit campaigner, DUP MP Sammy Wilson, at Methodist College in Belfast last night, Mr Izzard added that leaving the EU would have far-reaching implications, including potential job losses.

"The Bank of England has said that if we leave we will go into recession," he said.

He said membership of the EU had made the UK's economy "stronger".

Mr Izzard added that Northern Ireland had benefited hugely from the EU and questioned whether voters would want to see customs posts again 18 years after the landmark Good Friday Agreement.

"I just want to talk to Northern Irish people about what they want," he said. "Do they want to have borders again? Do they want to turn down £100m a year (from the EU)? I know some people on the Brexit side are saying it's not £100m it's £60m but...there's just so many earnings coming in."

The comedian, who performs shows in French and German as well as English, said while he understood some people had concerns about immigration, European countries who are not within the union, including Norway, still face immigration challenges.

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