Northern Ireland’s deputy leader Martin McGuinness called on Friday for a vote to unite the two sides of the Irish border as stocks tumbled in the economic and political fallout from Britain’s decision to quit the EU.
Ireland has the EU’s fastest-growing economy but also more to lose from Brexit than any other member state, with far-reaching implications for its trade, economy, security of energy supplies and peace in British-ruled Northern Ireland.
After 56 percent of Northern Irish voters sought to remain in the EU compared to the 52 percent of the United Kingdom as a whole who voted to leave, Sinn Fein’s McGuinness demanded that London call a referendum on a united Ireland.
“The British government now has no democratic mandate to represent the views of the North in any future negotiations with the European Union and I do believe that there is a democratic imperative for a ‘border poll’ to be held,” McGuinness told national Irish broadcaster RTE.
“The implications for all of us on the island of Ireland are absolutely massive. This could have very profound implications for our economy (in Northern Ireland).”
The call from Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland’s largest Irish nationalist party, was rebuffed by pro-British First Minister Arlene Foster and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who said there were much more serious issues to deal with.