Kate Hoey: Major and Blair are yesterday’s men

Former prime ministers Sir John Major (left) and Tony Blair share a platform for the Remain campaign event at the University of Ulster in Londonderry. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire
Former prime ministers Sir John Major (left) and Tony Blair share a platform for the Remain campaign event at the University of Ulster in Londonderry. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire

John Major and Tony Blair have joined a list of yesterday’s politicians determined to spread fear in Northern Ireland.

Both demonstrate their economic illiteracy in predicting a break-up of the UK if the people vote to leave on June 23rd.

As both ex-prime ministers know, the Good Friday Agreement described Northern Ireland’s position within the UK as ‘the settled will of the people of Northern Ireland’.

All polls show that this remains the case, and Brexit will not change this in any way. Northern Ireland’s prosperity remains totally tied to its position within the UK. While Northern Ireland receives a net contribution from the EU of only £100 per person per year, the contribution from the UK is £5,000 per person year and pays for around half of all public spending in Northern Ireland.

This will not change, and everyone knows that, except apparently Major and Blair.

Nor will Brexit lead to border problems in NI. The Republic will remain outside the Schengen Zone and will thus retain its border controls. This will allow it to prevent Dublin becoming a back-door into the UK. Personal travel between NI and the Republic has always been easy, in or out of the EU, and even during the Troubles there were few difficulties. Even if some documentation of freight trade is required, in the age of the internet this will not involve hold-ups at the border.

Major and Blair’s economic illiteracy also extends to Scotland. The idea that Scotland will vote to leave the UK after Brexit is fantasy. The voters of Scotland rejected independence in 2014 because they did not want Scotland to become an oil state, with its prosperity tied to the world oil price. That was when the oil price was $100 a barrel. With the price now half that, Scotland could not survive economically. Scotland’s voters know that and so does Nicola Sturgeon.

If Tony Blair spent more time in the UK, he would know that the cautious Nicola always says that Scotland could have a referendum post-Brexit, not that it will have a referendum.

The more Tony Blair talks about the need to remain the more the public will be persuaded to vote Leave.

Kate Hoey, Labour MP, Vauxhall