NI Secretary Theresa Villiers: ‘Brexit no affect on peace process’

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers believes claims that a Brexit could threaten the peace process are “scaremongering of the most irresponsible and dangerous kind”.

The Vote Leave campaigner said there is strong support in the North for an “entirely peaceful future”, and the commitment to peace and democracy would not be weakened if Britain is no longer part of the EU.

Remain supporters have warned financial and political support from the EU which has bolstered the Good Friday Agreement would be put at risk should Britain leave. Peter Mandelson, a former Northern secretary, also claimed the return of a “hard border” with the Republic would strengthen extremists.

Asked if the deal would unravel should voters support Britain leaving the EU, Ms Villiers told Sky News: “No, I don’t believe it would and actually not many people have made that allegation — just one or two figures from the Remain campaign.

“I think that’s scaremongering of the most irresponsible and even dangerous kind because what they’re effectively saying is that a vote to leave the EU would somehow weaken the commitment of people in Northern Ireland to peace and democracy, weaken their commitment to their future being determined by democracy and consent. I don’t believe that’s going to happen.”

Ms Villiers also reiterated she believes border arrangements between the North and the Republic of Ireland would not have to change in the event of a Brexit.

She also dismissed the need for border checks.

“Special status for Irish citizens and a common travel area allowing free movement for Irish citizens pre-dates our membership of the EU by decades, and there’s no reason why it can’t continue in the same way after we leave the EU,” she said.

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