A Northern Irish Member of Parliament (MP) has attacked the “base level of politics” of pro-European Union (EU) campaigners using ‘Project Fear’ tactics to warn that Brexit could jeopardise the Northern Ireland peace process.
Gavin Robinson, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP for East Belfast, criticised the latest example of ‘Project Fear’ campaigning yesterday when speaking at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on the topic of the EU referendum. In an unusual move he was giving evidence to the committee on which he sits.
UTV reports Mr. Robinson attacked supporters of continued membership of the EU who exploited fear over the stability of the Northern Ireland peace process to promote their cause, saying:
“I think that touches to a base level of politics, of concern and fear which I think is not suitable nor of a credit to anyone who should raise those.”
A Sinn Fein Member of the Legislative Assembly at Stormont, Megan Fearon, appeared to employ such tactics when arguing that Ireland north and south would be better off with the UK voting to remain in the EU. She explained:
“The EU has also been a major supporter of the development of the peace and political processes over the last two decades.
“As an MLA representing a border area, I know only too well the negative impact of partition. That would only be reinforced with a new European border.
“Ireland, north and south is better in the European Union and we cannot allow policies directed from the south-east of England to change that.”
Jim Allister — a former DUP Member of the European Parliament and now leader of the Traditional Ulster Voice Party — supports withdrawal from the EU, reports the BBC. He told the committee the EU causes enormous damage to Northern Ireland’s agriculture and fishing sector, and said it was time people were freed from the “shackles of the EU”.
Of the main Stormont parties, the DUP stands alone in backing Brexit. In contrast to the traditional ‘orange/green’ divide, the Ulster Unionist Party announced at the weekend that it will campaign to remain in the EU alongside Sinn Féin, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Alliance Party. It does, however, say it “respects that individual members may vote for withdrawal”.