Could Ireland decide whether Britain remains in the EU?

Irish voters could decide whether Britain remains in the EU since any change to the union’s treaty would trigger a referendum.

Dara Murphy, the European affairs minister, said that if Britain’s demands could only be delivered through changing the EU treaty then Ireland would have to hold a referendum.

He believes Ireland has to be supportive of whatever adjustments London negotiates with the EU. “Any treaty change would require us to hold a referendum and the appetite has to be supportive of Britain. Many people agree with the sentiment of the people of Britain in selecting the Conservatives with such a majority means they have a mandate to take to their European partners,” Mr Murphy said.

Ireland received specific derogations from the EU treaty in the past, as did Britain and Denmark, and Mr Murphy believes it might be possible for British concerns to be addressed in the same way, which would not require a full treaty change.

READ MORE: Ireland most to fear in ‘Brexit’ .  

DISCOVER MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS

“Our view is that we have not delivered the full potential of the existing treaty. And if the treaty is to be changed, then immediately there will be others looking for changes — some moving towards a more federal Europe and others in the opposite direction,” Mr Murphy said.

Comments in Ireland on the prospect of Britain leaving the EU have been measured to date, he said. “I do not see or understand any rationale for anyone in Irish business thinking a British exit could be any possible benefit to Ireland.”

He pointed to statements by Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy, who claimed a British exit from the EU would lead to Ireland considering its position. Mr Murphy said he was contacted by many business people over this, who said it did not reflect their views.

Mr Murphy believes Britain will remain part of the EU, and that many changes the country appears to want are shared by Ireland and other member states. “We desire to see less bureaucratic decisions, we want the single market to advance, and see the EU-US TTIP trade agreement finalised. In fact much of what we want has been echoed by the new European Commission.”

David Lidington, the British EU minister, is expected to visit Ireland shortly for a bilateral meeting with the Government.

David Cameron, the prime minister, is expected to publish a bill on May 28 that will lead to a referendum on Britain’s EU membership before the end of 2017.

DISCOVER MORE CONTENT LIKE THIS

READ MORE: Ireland most to fear in ‘Brexit’ .  

More on this topic

Boris Johnson hails end of ‘years of argument’ as he signs Withdrawal AgreementBoris Johnson hails end of ‘years of argument’ as he signs Withdrawal Agreement

Michelin-starred chef ‘refused permission to stay in UK after Brexit’Michelin-starred chef ‘refused permission to stay in UK after Brexit’

UK will face ‘consequences’ from Brexit, says German finance ministerUK will face ‘consequences’ from Brexit, says German finance minister

European presidents sign off on Brexit agreementEuropean presidents sign off on Brexit agreement