Tony Blair’s suggestion that the Northern Ireland peace process will be at risk if Britain leaves the EU is “dangerous and destabilising”, one of the province’s leading politicians has said.
Pro-Brexit DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds condemned the former prime minister’s comments as “irresponsible nonsense”.
Mr Blair was teaming up with his old adversary Sir John Major to warn that a vote to leave the European Union could damage Northern Ireland and potentially lead to the break-up of the UK.
Former Tory premier Sir John and his Labour successor Mr Blair were instrumental in the peace process in the country and will warn against a move which could put that stability at risk.
But Mr Dodds called for a debate “to allow us time to debunk the nonsense being spoken today by the former prime minister Tony Blair about the peace process and the political process in Northern Ireland being under threat if we vote to leave the European Union”.
“Surely this is the most irresponsible talk that can be perpetuated in terms of Northern Ireland - very dangerous, destabilising and it should not be happening,” he added during the business statement in the Commons.
Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond ridiculed Mr Blair for “haunting the TV studios like some unwanted poltergeist” to “get his excuses in” before the publication of the Chilcot report on the Iraq War.
The SNP MP said: “We are less now than four weeks away from the publication of the Chilcot report and the former prime minister is back haunting the television studios like some unwanted poltergeist - reassembling his old gang, getting his retaliation and his excuses in first, all of which should give us some indication and encouragement that the verdict of the report will be damning.”
Commons Leader Chris Grayling told Mr Salmond it was “essential” for MPs to be able to question and discuss the report in the Commons before highlighting Mr Blair’s comments about Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Mr Grayling said: “It is noticeable he’s been omnipresent recently.
“You might have noticed in his interesting contribution today where he accused the current leader of his party of turning it from a party of power to a party of protest, that’s something which I agree with and I think even the shadow leader probably agrees with.”
Mr Dodds told BBC Radio 4’s World At One that the two ex-premiers were engaging in “scaremongering”.
“I think it’s deeply disappointing. They know that the peace process in Northern Ireland has never been more stable. They are devaluing their own legacy,” Mr Dodds said.