Ireland should not rule out joining Britain in quitting EU

londonLONDON, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) — A former leading Irish diplomat said Friday that Ireland might have to opt for an “Irexit” and quit the European Union (EU).
Ray Bassett, Ireland’s one time ambassador to Canada, said Ireland faced a “momentous decision” after Brexit, but had stubbornly chosen to stick with the EU regardless.
Writing in the Belfast News Letter on Friday, Bassett said Dublin should instead keep its options open.

Bassett is one of the first Irish establishment figures to float the idea of an “Irexit” — Ireland leaving the EU, said the newspaper.
In his article, Bassett said following the referendum vote by the British people to leave the EU, the Irish Department of Finance outlined “a dire scenario in the event of a hard Brexit”, warning of a 30-percent fall in exports to mainland Britain, leading to 40,000 job losses in Ireland.

But he said the department had not examined the cost of leaving “the EU and keeping a free trade area with post Brexit Britain.”

“It is the height of folly not to consider all options,” Bassett wrote.
He said the Irish government also had to take into consideration the Belfast Agreement, which was agreed under the umbrella that both Britain and Ireland were members of the EU.
The Belfast Agreement, a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process of the 1990s, ended three decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland.
Bassett said there must be serious doubts about the sustainability of the peace agreements if the basis on which they were constructed were altered by a hard Brexit.
Ireland joined the EU in 1973 at the same time as Britain.

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