George Osborne said yesterday that the ex prime minister, John Major, had spoken “powerfully” about the risk to the UK itself from Brexit.
The News Letter asked the Chancellor what his assessment was of the likely impact on nationalist feeling, particularly in Scotland, in the event Britain voted to leave the EU.
“Look, I principally have been making the economic case and I would say that for a start when economies are weaker it tends to pull people apart rather than push them together,” Mr Osborne replied.
“You had a former British prime minister John Major speaking I thought powerfully yesterday about what leaving the EU or quitting the EU would do for the United Kingdom and how it would encourage forces that want to pull us apart and you know I think he spoke very powerfully about that.”
Mr Major told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show that after a Brexit “the Scots may hold another referendum”. He said: “We might end up with Britain out of the European Union, and Scotland out of the UK”.
Mr Osborne’s visit to Co Down was welcomed by Peter Conway, chief executive Warrenpoint Harbour Authority.
“We are very much in favour of Remain because of our border trade, back and forth across the border,” he said.
Mr Conway added: “We are very concerned about our jobs and the future of the port. The natural hinterland of this port is both sides of the border.
“And of course our trade is very much with the European Union, the vessels that come in and out of here are very often from [EU countries].” Mr Conway said it was a “good visit and very businesslike and [Mr Osborne] was very supportive of our business and encouraged us to maintain our position”.