Brexit means changing N.Ireland peace deal: Blair

AFP , Friday 12 May 2017

Tony Blair "Reuters"
Britain's former Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks at a meeting of the European People's Party in Wicklow, Ireland, May 12, 2017 (Photo:Reuters)

Former British prime minister Tony Blair said Friday that the landmark 1998 peace agreement for Northern Ireland -- which he helped to negotiate -- would have to be changed because of Brexit.

"The Good Friday or Belfast Agreement was formulated on the assumption that both countries were part of the EU," he said at a meeting of the European People's Party in County Wicklow, south of Dublin.
"This was not only for economic but also for political reasons, to take account particularly of nationalist aspirations," he said.

"Some of the language will therefore require amendment because of Brexit," he added.
He said this should be achievable with a "minimum of difficulty" if there was a willingness to do so on all sides.

Blair was one of the architects of the agreement, which ended three decades of bloody conflict that claimed more than 3,500 lives.

He said it was important that both Britain and the EU formed a consensus on avoiding a "hard" border but that "some disruption is inevitable and indeed is already happening".

"If the UK and the Republic were able to agree a way forward on the border, then we would have the best chance of limiting the damage. It is in the interests of us all, including our European partners, for this to happen," he said.

But Manfred Weber, a German MEP who leads the European People's Party, warned at the conference that despite the rhetoric from London "this cannot be a win-win situation".

"From our point of view we see no chance for a win-win situation -- this will create damage. I hate to say this but this is the reality," he said.

"We have tried to do this with a constructive approach but in the end this is a mistake, it is a mistake to go out of the European Union and that is what the British people will experience in the next years," he added.

Short link: