There are “risks” to the future of the United Kingdom in the event of a Brexit, David Cameron has said.
The Prime Minister said that anyone who wanted the UK to survive had another reason to support the Remain campaign to stay in the European Union.
Mr Cameron admitted his concern about the prospects of the UK following an Out vote during his visit to Co Antrim on Saturday.
In response to a News Letter question about the possible impact of the UK departing the EU on nationalists in Scotland and Northern Ireland, he said: “I am passionate about keeping the United Kingdom together.
“This is a United Kingdom vote and we decide as one United Kingdom, but you can see that people are making this point [about separating from the UK post Brexit] in Scotland so I think there are risks and concerns.
“But you know, I am very clear, the United Kingdom will decide as one but if you care about keeping the United Kingdom together that is one extra reason to vote to remain part of a reformed European Union.”
Mr Cameron was speaking to a group of local journalists after talking to farmers and answering their questions at Ballybollan House, a dairy farm near Ahoghill.
Asked if he agreed with the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers that the Province could prosper outside Europe, Mr Cameron said Northern Ireland would “be better off, stronger, safer, stronger economically” in a reformed EU.
But he added that “Theresa will set out her own views”.
He said that the political institutions in Northern Ireland were “up and running again and working well, there is work being done between the Assembly government and British government, that’s going well, the relationship with the Republic of Ireland, that is going well”.
He said it was better to build on “economic strength [and] political stability” by staying in a reformed EU than facing the “dislocation that could come from leaving”.
Asked about what would happen to the Irish border after Brexit, Mr Cameron said that supporters of quitting the EU had “some very difficult questions to answer because, you know, the people making the arguments for leaving are talking a lot about what should happen at the border and the movement of European Union nationals and if that is what they’re saying then it does raise a series of questions about what exactly you would do at the border between the Republic and Northern Ireland”.
He said that “if you don’t do things there would you do things before people get on the Stranraer ferry?”.
Questioned about Ms Villiers’ comments that agriculture on both sides of the border would be better outside the EU because there would be more money available to support them, the Prime Minister said that “today what we’ve got is some of the best meat, some of the best food, most efficiently produced anywhere in the world, here in Northern Ireland, and it has duty-free, tariff-free, tax-free, quota-free total access to a market of 500 million people, and why on Earth would we want to put that at risk, and the people who want us to leave can’t spell out exactly the market arrangements will be”.