19/06/2016 Sunday Politics Northern Ireland


19/06/2016

Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers with the latest on the EU referendum, including interviews with remain campaigner Paddy Ashdown and leave campaigner John Mann.


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Transcript


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Hello, and welcome to Sunday Politics.

2:49:272:49:29

Amid the shock of the murder of the MP Jo Cox,

2:49:292:49:32

the EU referendum campaign enters its final days.

2:49:322:49:35

The argument that a Brexit could destabilise the UK

2:49:352:49:39

has been dismissed this weekend by a former Ulster Unionist leader

2:49:392:49:42

and senior party figures.

2:49:422:49:44

I don't believe people should underestimate the risk that

2:49:442:49:47

this would begin the process

2:49:472:49:49

by which the United Kingdom could begin to unravel.

2:49:492:49:52

No. If we Brexit and the Republic of Ireland obviously stays

2:49:522:49:56

as a part of the EU, we can have a special relationship.

2:49:562:50:00

With me in the studio, the leaders of the Remain

2:50:002:50:03

and the Leave campaigns here debate the subject one last time

2:50:032:50:06

before Thursday's vote. And we'll hear what our guests of the day,

2:50:062:50:10

Deirdre Heenan and Alex Kane, have to say

2:50:102:50:12

as the debate enters the home straight.

2:50:122:50:14

Official campaigning has resumed in the EU referendum

2:50:192:50:23

after the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox.

2:50:232:50:25

Here, there's been an intervention by former and current

2:50:252:50:29

senior Ulster Unionist figures, who have written to party members

2:50:292:50:32

urging them to vote Leave on Thursday.

2:50:322:50:34

They reject what they call "dishonest scaremongering"

2:50:342:50:37

that a vote to leave will undermine peace in Northern Ireland.

2:50:372:50:40

In a moment we'll hear from one of them, but first to that warning

2:50:402:50:44

about the impact a Brexit could have here.

2:50:442:50:46

Richard Haass is a former US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland

2:50:462:50:49

who chaired talks to resolve the deadlock at Stormont, of course.

2:50:492:50:52

Speaking to me from his office in New York,

2:50:522:50:54

he told me that in his view the consequences of a Leave vote

2:50:542:50:58

could be damaging for people here.

2:50:582:51:00

I do think peace in Northern Ireland

2:51:002:51:03

should not be taken for granted.

2:51:032:51:05

I'm not suggesting that the morning after a vote for Brexit

2:51:052:51:09

there would be riots in the street.

2:51:092:51:11

That's the caricature of what I intended.

2:51:112:51:13

I am worried, though, that a vote for Brexit could very well lead

2:51:132:51:18

to a new referendum in Scotland,

2:51:182:51:20

and I believe the argument for remaining in the EU

2:51:202:51:24

would carry the day there.

2:51:242:51:26

Then if you move from a United Kingdom to something less,

2:51:262:51:30

I believe the pressures will grow in Northern Ireland

2:51:302:51:33

quite possibly for a border poll,

2:51:332:51:35

and again the EU argument could come to the fore.

2:51:352:51:37

There will be those who'll want to

2:51:372:51:39

stay in the EU and that could be an argument for joining with Ireland.

2:51:392:51:42

There will be those, obviously, the unionists, who would oppose that

2:51:422:51:46

and I think you could see a situation where the ultimate fate,

2:51:462:51:49

what we would call in other situations final status issues,

2:51:492:51:53

would come to the fore in Northern Ireland,

2:51:532:51:56

and I just don't assume that that's a situation where

2:51:562:52:00

tempers would flare and once again we would see some signs of violence.

2:52:002:52:04

Look, I'd love to be wrong here.

2:52:042:52:06

I have been called a scaremonger and other things,

2:52:062:52:09

-and first of all I hope that Brexit doesn't happen.

-Well...

2:52:092:52:12

But if it were to happen, I don't believe people should underestimate

2:52:122:52:16

the risk that this would begin the process

2:52:162:52:19

by which the United Kingdom could begin to unravel.

2:52:192:52:22

Isn't it the case that the kind of political regression you describe

2:52:222:52:26

is less likely than ever here

2:52:262:52:27

because now we've got a DUP and Sinn Fein coalition in charge at Stormont

2:52:272:52:31

in which both sides are very publicly committed

2:52:312:52:34

to working together for at least the next five years?

2:52:342:52:37

Doesn't that change the political landscape?

2:52:372:52:40

Of course it does. And I think

2:52:402:52:42

the Stormont House Agreement was obviously a welcome development.

2:52:422:52:46

I think the fact that people are saying the things they're saying,

2:52:462:52:49

that you're beginning to see a bit of cooperation, all that's good.

2:52:492:52:53

All I'm saying, it takes place

2:52:532:52:55

against a backdrop of many unresolved issues

2:52:552:52:58

and it takes place potentially against a backdrop of Brexit.

2:52:582:53:01

Again, don't get me wrong,

2:53:012:53:03

there is nothing more I would like to see

2:53:032:53:05

than Northern Ireland to continue down the path of political progress,

2:53:052:53:10

of normalcy, of reconciliation,

2:53:102:53:12

and where ultimately neighbourhoods weren't divided,

2:53:122:53:15

schools weren't divided and the parties weren't defined

2:53:152:53:19

by essentially political, religious traditions.

2:53:192:53:22

I want to see the Northern Ireland come about

2:53:222:53:24

where parties are defined by basic questions of the role of government

2:53:242:53:27

and the economy or the relationship of individuals to societies

2:53:272:53:30

which is the way political parties are defined in most of the world.

2:53:302:53:34

But let's not kid ourselves. We are not at this point.

2:53:342:53:37

And my concern about Brexit is it could actually be a major challenge

2:53:372:53:41

to the ability of Northern Ireland's leaders,

2:53:412:53:44

who, with all due respect, have often shown limited ability to lead.

2:53:442:53:47

It is my view that this is a real challenge

2:53:472:53:50

and it is for this reason also I question the decision, say,

2:53:502:53:53

of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to favour Brexit.

2:53:532:53:56

I don't understand,

2:53:562:53:57

in some ways to turn around what you just said to me,

2:53:572:54:00

why people would potentially put in jeopardy the progress that has been

2:54:002:54:04

realised over the last 15 years

2:54:042:54:07

and over the last one to two years in particular.

2:54:072:54:09

That is why I don't believe that Brexit is a wise path to go down.

2:54:092:54:14

Richard Haass in New York.

2:54:142:54:16

And two former Prime Ministers, Sir John Major and Tony Blair,

2:54:162:54:19

have made the same point and that's provoked a response

2:54:192:54:22

from the likes of Lords Trimble and Kilclooney,

2:54:222:54:24

as well as the former Ulster Unionist MP, David Burnside.

2:54:242:54:28

Our political correspondent, Gareth Gordon, spoke to Mr Burnside

2:54:282:54:31

yesterday and asked him why,

2:54:312:54:33

when the UUP says the Brexit vote is a matter for individual members,

2:54:332:54:36

he felt it necessary to speak up in such a high-profile way.

2:54:362:54:40

Because we are coming to probably

2:54:412:54:43

the most important decision in my lifetime that this country has made

2:54:432:54:48

and if we get it wrong, I think

2:54:482:54:50

it will be seriously damaging for this country.

2:54:502:54:53

I regard the uncertainty of remaining in the EU as

2:54:532:54:56

the biggest threat to the EU and a great opportunity if we leave,

2:54:562:55:00

so I and a lot of former Ulster Unionist colleagues decided

2:55:002:55:04

we wanted to express our views.

2:55:042:55:06

We're no more expert than anybody else but we have

2:55:062:55:09

a bit of experience on the subject and we feel very strongly about it.

2:55:092:55:12

It'll be good for Northern Ireland and good for the UK to leave.

2:55:122:55:16

You say in the letter that Ulster unionism has always been

2:55:162:55:19

first and foremost about protecting the sovereignty and independence

2:55:192:55:23

of the entire UK, but what about those who would say

2:55:232:55:26

that a Brexit vote could lead to the break-up of the UK, or even more so,

2:55:262:55:32

since we're here, a united Ireland?

2:55:322:55:34

No. Well, let's take the two examples that might be under most threat -

2:55:342:55:38

Scotland, the most pressing one in recent years with the recent

2:55:382:55:42

referendum for staying in the union.

2:55:422:55:45

There are people scaremongering, Sturgeon scaremongering in Scotland

2:55:452:55:48

saying she will call for another referendum if UK leaves.

2:55:482:55:53

That's the last thing she wants.

2:55:532:55:56

She would hate that to happen

2:55:562:55:57

cos she knows in the opinion polls in Scotland and the reality,

2:55:572:56:01

the real opinion polls, the election in Scotland,

2:56:012:56:05

that probably 10% of the population in Scotland who are voting SNP

2:56:052:56:10

in a local parliament election in Scotland are pro-union,

2:56:102:56:15

so she would lose another vote and she doesn't want to lose twice.

2:56:152:56:20

If you take Northern Ireland,

2:56:202:56:22

all the threats and scaremongering about we're going to have...

2:56:222:56:26

I'm old enough to remember Triptiks, that triangle you used to

2:56:262:56:30

stick, my father used to stick on the front of the car when

2:56:302:56:33

you crossed the border custom posts,

2:56:332:56:35

there's no reason we should have that if we Brexit and

2:56:352:56:38

the Republic of Ireland obviously stays as a part of the EU.

2:56:382:56:41

We can have a special relationship.

2:56:412:56:44

Our letter points out, in the Belfast Agreement,

2:56:442:56:47

we set up North-South co-operation between North and South,

2:56:472:56:52

we set up the North-West East-West Council,

2:56:522:56:54

we can work out a deal where travel will be as easy as it is now,

2:56:542:56:58

North and South. On immigration control,

2:56:582:57:01

yes, we would need to look at new arrangements

2:57:012:57:04

but immigration is a major, major threat to the United Kingdom,

2:57:042:57:08

and the British government, Conservative or Labour,

2:57:082:57:11

have not dealt with the problem.

2:57:112:57:12

But what about the growing number of Catholics here who may have been

2:57:122:57:16

described as soft nationalists

2:57:162:57:18

but are relatively happy with the status quo here -

2:57:182:57:20

will they not be unnerved by a Brexit?

2:57:202:57:24

-No, I don't think so.

-Are you sure?

2:57:242:57:27

I'm not sure. I'm not sure until next Thursday.

2:57:272:57:30

And I don't accept this sectarian headcount any longer about

2:57:302:57:33

the Prods who are just voting for the union

2:57:332:57:35

and the Catholics who are voting for a united Ireland.

2:57:352:57:38

That is not correct. It's not correct in the opinion polls.

2:57:382:57:42

It's not correct the breakdown of the parties. You know, Gareth,

2:57:422:57:45

at the last election it was the nationalist vote

2:57:452:57:47

that was falling, it wasn't the unionist vote.

2:57:472:57:50

-We know...

-But that could change if there's a Brexit.

-Of course it can.

2:57:502:57:53

There are Catholics voting for the Ulster Unionist Party.

2:57:532:57:56

There are Catholics who vote for the Alliance Party.

2:57:562:57:58

There are Catholics voting for parties,

2:57:582:58:00

admittedly most of them are Remain,

2:58:002:58:03

but the Ulster Unionist Party, my party, basically is

2:58:032:58:08

like the Conservative Party, you can do what you want.

2:58:082:58:11

And I think there will be a lot of unionists who will vote to leave

2:58:112:58:15

and I think there will be a lot of Catholics, whether unionist

2:58:152:58:18

or soft nationalists, looking at the interests,

2:58:182:58:21

their economic interests and stability in the future,

2:58:212:58:24

will be voting to leave.

2:58:242:58:26

David Burnside there, and with me now are the organisers

2:58:262:58:29

of the Leave and Remain campaigns here - Lee Reynolds and Tom Kelly.

2:58:292:58:33

Welcome to you both. Tom Kelly, first of all,

2:58:332:58:36

I'll come to the comments of David Burnside and Richard Haass

2:58:362:58:39

in just a moment, but the murder of Jo Cox on Thursday

2:58:392:58:42

has cast a pall over the last week of campaigning.

2:58:422:58:44

Both sides called off their activities, as we know,

2:58:442:58:47

for a period of over 48 hours.

2:58:472:58:49

What impact is that having for your respective campaigns?

2:58:492:58:52

I think first of all that it gives us all a period of reflection.

2:58:522:58:55

Anybody involved in politics at all

2:58:552:58:57

should be reflecting on the values that Jo Cox represented,

2:58:572:59:02

and to get people to understand that differences are just that -

2:59:022:59:06

differences of opinion.

2:59:062:59:07

They are not a call to action for people to go and do things.

2:59:072:59:10

That's not... The problem is that people,

2:59:102:59:13

with language comes responsibility,

2:59:132:59:15

and sometimes that has been careless, and I think

2:59:152:59:17

that has made everybody sit back and look at the language

2:59:172:59:20

they've been using over the past number of weeks

2:59:202:59:22

and tempering that language, and trying to get people to,

2:59:222:59:25

if you want to use that Portadown expression, wind their necks in.

2:59:252:59:28

What kind of impact has it had on your campaign, Lee Reynolds?

2:59:282:59:32

Firstly, when you see such a tragedy,

2:59:322:59:34

you want to express your sympathy and respect for the family,

2:59:342:59:38

and the tragic time and situation they're dealing with.

2:59:382:59:41

It also gave us a sense and an opportunity to reflect

2:59:412:59:46

on where politics is going and the need to improve debate.

2:59:462:59:50

Lord Ashdown has said this morning

2:59:502:59:52

he's ashamed at the tone of the campaign.

2:59:522:59:56

Do you share his view, Tom Kelly?

2:59:562:59:58

Do you perhaps agree with him?

2:59:583:00:00

Do you feel in any way responsible for that?

3:00:003:00:03

No, I don't.

3:00:033:00:05

Because I have my own personal record to stand on

3:00:053:00:08

for the past 15, 20 years

3:00:083:00:09

and I am very conscious of the use of language

3:00:093:00:12

and it's something I continually harp on about in my own columns.

3:00:123:00:16

I continually harangue politicians for it

3:00:163:00:18

and I think that the level of debate, political debate,

3:00:183:00:21

has descended so badly over the past number of months on this

3:00:213:00:24

and fears have been unrealistically stoked up.

3:00:243:00:27

Then you get consequences to these things.

3:00:273:00:30

And that's on all sides of political debate.

3:00:303:00:33

So my view is that people need to take a stand back,

3:00:333:00:38

cooling-off period, and actually start to think about

3:00:383:00:41

what this society needs and what type of society we want to be.

3:00:413:00:45

Much has been made of the toxicity of the debate in recent weeks.

3:00:453:00:49

Lee Reynolds, it has to be said

3:00:493:00:50

it has been a lot less toxic in Northern Ireland

3:00:503:00:53

than it has been across the water.

3:00:533:00:55

Well, yes. We've tried as much as we possibly can

3:00:553:00:57

to make the positive case

3:00:573:00:58

for Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom leaving European Union.

3:00:583:01:02

That is the position, we've tried to sell the positive case

3:01:023:01:05

to people in Northern Ireland.

3:01:053:01:06

That's how we've designed and shaped the campaign.

3:01:063:01:08

We knew the national messages would get through the national media

3:01:083:01:11

but very much we wanted to sell it

3:01:113:01:13

as "This is why it's good for the people of Northern Ireland."

3:01:133:01:16

OK. So, on that, if perhaps not very much else,

3:01:163:01:18

the two of you absolutely are in agreement, is that right?

3:01:183:01:21

-Yes.

-OK. Let's talk about Richard Haass and David Burnside.

3:01:213:01:26

Richard Haass, first of all, has helped...

3:01:263:01:28

Or has Richard Haass helped the Remain campaign, do you think,

3:01:283:01:31

Tom Kelly, by suggesting a vote to leave on Thursday

3:01:313:01:35

could trigger violence and political gridlock?

3:01:353:01:37

I didn't hear how at the start he articulated this point of view

3:01:373:01:41

but I've heard him now this morning

3:01:413:01:43

and my view is, yes, I can understand where he's coming from.

3:01:433:01:46

It doesn't take a lot to destabilise people at Stormont.

3:01:463:01:50

It is always stop, go, stop, go,

3:01:503:01:52

and there are huge issues on the agenda still unresolved.

3:01:523:01:56

We saw them last week with Loughinisland,

3:01:563:01:58

we saw them with the Kingsmills murders,

3:01:583:02:00

people take diametrically opposed views and from those

3:02:003:02:03

you get destabilisation. Then you throw, into the cocktail mix

3:02:033:02:05

of the normal instability between the two sides,

3:02:053:02:07

constitutional issues, and then all of a sudden it's all up for grabs.

3:02:073:02:11

So are you saying you agree with him

3:02:113:02:12

that there could be violence and political gridlock

3:02:123:02:15

if there is a vote to leave on Thursday?

3:02:153:02:17

Well, Mark, I'm of that generation that was robbed of their actual...

3:02:173:02:21

what they were entitled to as a generation -

3:02:213:02:23

to live in a place free and happy and at peace,

3:02:233:02:27

and I've seen how people my age got drawn in on both sides to issues,

3:02:273:02:32

mainly over the border, mainly over constitutional issues,

3:02:323:02:35

and I have watched the same slide happening again with the dissidents,

3:02:353:02:39

and therefore it doesn't take an awful lot for

3:02:393:02:42

powerful people with powerful messages to get out there and

3:02:423:02:44

get into communities, particularly working-class communities,

3:02:443:02:48

and destabilise those at a grassroots level.

3:02:483:02:50

I believe that's a genuine fear.

3:02:503:02:53

Does it concern you, Lee Reynolds, that a respected international

3:02:533:02:56

figure like Richard Haass, who knows this place very well,

3:02:563:02:59

has said what he has said?

3:02:593:03:00

Well, as someone who saw Richard Haass up close and personal

3:03:003:03:03

during the last Haass process,

3:03:033:03:05

his misjudged intervention was no surprise to me

3:03:053:03:09

considering how he mishandled his own process.

3:03:093:03:12

That's what that is, in your view?

3:03:123:03:13

Yes, it is, and it's also...

3:03:133:03:16

It's just a genuine insult to the people of Northern Ireland.

3:03:163:03:19

We are not some blood-crazed group of people who at the drop...

3:03:193:03:24

-I don't think he's suggesting that.

-He's suggesting that

3:03:243:03:27

a democratic vote would result in a deterioration into violence.

3:03:273:03:32

We have had peace here for 20 years because people wanted,

3:03:323:03:37

have maintained it and have kept it going.

3:03:373:03:40

That is what we will do.

3:03:403:03:42

We can defeat the dissident terrorist organisations and we will.

3:03:423:03:45

Our security forces are already having very substantial success

3:03:453:03:49

in dealing with them, and it's not only because there are new techniques and all the rest of it,

3:03:493:03:53

because they are getting the support and information from the ground.

3:03:533:03:56

But his point is a simple point, distilled down - why would you

3:03:563:04:00

jeopardise what has been achieved by leaping in the dark?

3:04:003:04:04

It isn't a leap in the dark, it's a step towards progress.

3:04:043:04:07

It's a step towards more. If we leave the European Union

3:04:073:04:10

we're actually empowering London and Belfast.

3:04:103:04:13

How much of a shot in the arm, then, to your campaign

3:04:133:04:16

do you think the letter from that group of unionist grandees has been?

3:04:163:04:21

Every section of society that comes forward and endorses your campaign

3:04:213:04:25

and encourages people to vote for you is of obvious benefit for you.

3:04:253:04:29

So you're pretty happy to hear what David Burnside had to say?

3:04:293:04:32

I welcome it, because it's true.

3:04:323:04:34

There is not a threat to the peace process by a democratic vote.

3:04:343:04:37

-OK. Tom Kelly?

-Well, I'm kind of incredulous because

3:04:373:04:40

I've never heard so many unionists being so enthusiastic for cross-border relations

3:04:403:04:44

and what's going on on the ground,

3:04:443:04:46

because that's the first time you really hear that.

3:04:463:04:49

The overwhelming praise for David Trimble,

3:04:493:04:51

it's a long time coming, but I'm sure he appreciates it

3:04:513:04:53

even though it's on the wrong issue.

3:04:533:04:55

I think ultimately what we have here

3:04:553:04:57

are a group of people who are completely out of touch,

3:04:573:05:00

they're of a generation who are ideologically opposed, for years,

3:05:003:05:04

to the whole concept of Europe and the whole togetherness of Europe.

3:05:043:05:07

Therefore they find it difficult,

3:05:073:05:09

when provided an opportunity for a referendum, which, let's face it,

3:05:093:05:12

nobody particularly wanted,

3:05:123:05:14

this is a battle about the Tory party leadership...

3:05:143:05:16

Are you guilty here of conflating two things?

3:05:163:05:18

You don't know what any of those individuals think about Europe.

3:05:183:05:21

They may not like the European Union

3:05:213:05:22

but that's not the same as saying they don't like Europe.

3:05:223:05:25

I know what one or two of them do

3:05:253:05:26

because I was speaking to them in the airport the other day.

3:05:263:05:29

But there is a very important point to be made -

3:05:293:05:31

Europe is not the European Union.

3:05:313:05:32

Boris Johnson is a good example of that.

3:05:323:05:34

He doesn't particularly like the European Union

3:05:343:05:36

-but he's a big supporter of Europe.

-Boris Johnson, to my mind,

3:05:363:05:39

is the most disingenuous person when it comes to the EU.

3:05:393:05:42

I've heard him speak. I'm the chairman of Square Mile magazine

3:05:423:05:44

in the City of London. I've had him at our own dinners.

3:05:443:05:47

I've heard him giving the most Europhile speeches

3:05:473:05:49

in terms of support of the EU

3:05:493:05:50

and his recent conversion is more to do with getting into Number 10.

3:05:503:05:54

The unfortunate thing from my point of view is

3:05:543:05:56

the number of jobs he may cost in society to get that one job.

3:05:563:05:59

Right. Let's talk about the campaign so far and where you think

3:05:593:06:02

it goes from here. The most recent polls, Lee Reynolds,

3:06:023:06:06

seem to suggest there has been a shift in the public mood

3:06:063:06:08

towards Leave. Do you believe that is the case?

3:06:083:06:11

In Northern Ireland, yes, we do believe that to be the case.

3:06:113:06:14

-Just in Northern Ireland?

-Also nationally, we've seen it as well.

3:06:143:06:17

Right, so right across the whole UK, including Northern Ireland?

3:06:173:06:20

-Yes.

-Right. To what extent? To the extent that

3:06:203:06:22

you can now relax and take your foot off the gas?

3:06:223:06:25

No, no, absolutely not. When we entered this campaign,

3:06:253:06:28

we were convinced that we were the underdog.

3:06:283:06:30

We knew any victory we would achieve would be a very hard-fought one,

3:06:303:06:34

and we will not be stopping the battle to win the vote on Thursday

3:06:343:06:38

until ten o'clock on Thursday.

3:06:383:06:40

But do you believe as we speak today, Sunday,

3:06:403:06:44

before the vote on Thursday, that you will be successful on Thursday?

3:06:443:06:48

I believe we can be successful. It is on a knife edge.

3:06:483:06:51

There is very significant...

3:06:513:06:53

The polls, I believe, nationally are correct.

3:06:533:06:55

We're within the margin of error. Every single vote will count

3:06:553:06:58

but this is the thing, it's on Thursday, who turns up,

3:06:583:07:01

and the battle is to get people to go and express their democratic will

3:07:013:07:04

-and I hope they vote Leave.

-And, Tom Kelly, do you believe

3:07:043:07:06

the direction of travel is indeed towards Leave?

3:07:063:07:09

I think that on Thursday

3:07:093:07:11

we will get an overwhelming clear majority for Remain,

3:07:113:07:16

both in Northern Ireland and across the United Kingdom.

3:07:163:07:19

I've been thinking that for quite a while.

3:07:193:07:21

I don't accept the underdog argument from the largest party in Northern Ireland at all.

3:07:213:07:24

They have been a dominant force in politics for the past nine years,

3:07:243:07:28

so I don't particularly accept that, but the bottom line is, for me,

3:07:283:07:31

I think people have to internalise this referendum for themselves.

3:07:313:07:35

It is about how it impacts YOUR family, how it impacts YOUR job.

3:07:353:07:40

I think a lot of the politicians, a lot of the debate on

3:07:403:07:42

the national campaign has gone over their heads in relation to that,

3:07:423:07:45

but I think when people internalise it,

3:07:453:07:47

I think they'll make the right choice.

3:07:473:07:49

All right. Gentleman, thanks both very much for joining us today.

3:07:493:07:52

Let's hear what my guests of the day, Alex Kane and Deirdre Heenan,

3:07:523:07:56

make of all that. Alex, first,

3:07:563:07:57

will Mike Nesbitt be disappointed at the intervention by

3:07:573:08:00

senior current and former members of his party, do you think?

3:08:003:08:03

I think he will be, but it's not particularly surprising.

3:08:033:08:05

I think if Nesbitt had done better in the Assembly election,

3:08:053:08:08

if he'd pulled in extra votes, another couple of percent,

3:08:083:08:10

maybe two or three seats, they would have left him alone.

3:08:103:08:13

They sense a bit of weakness, and my experience of the UUP,

3:08:133:08:15

when they sense weakness in the leader, they tend to go for him,

3:08:153:08:18

-and that is what we are seeing.

-What about that intervention

3:08:183:08:21

from the Ulster Unionists and also what Richard Haass had to say?

3:08:213:08:24

Well, I think in many ways

3:08:243:08:25

people are beginning to be confused by the whole issue.

3:08:253:08:29

Richard Haass has talked about the peace process.

3:08:293:08:31

When John Major and Tony Blair came to the University of Ulster

3:08:313:08:35

we talked about the peace process,

3:08:353:08:36

but in reality they talked at length about trade and the economy.

3:08:363:08:40

I think we are in danger of losing the main issue here.

3:08:403:08:43

When people are asked to vote, they will be asked to vote

3:08:433:08:46

about leaving the largest single market in the world.

3:08:463:08:50

And what are the likely implications?

3:08:503:08:52

David Burnside has said he's as much as an expert as everyone else -

3:08:523:08:55

well, really there are experts out there,

3:08:553:08:58

there's the World Trade Organisation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Treasury.

3:08:583:09:02

Are we to say that they're all wrong, that they're all deluded?

3:09:023:09:05

They are saying this is likely to lead to uncertainty,

3:09:053:09:09

recession, a downturn, inflation,

3:09:093:09:12

investors turning their face against the UK.

3:09:123:09:14

Are we to say they're all on the gravy train,

3:09:143:09:17

that they're all corrupt? Of course they're not.

3:09:173:09:19

I think we have to look at the evidence. Lee talked about progress.

3:09:193:09:23

We are going into the unknown here. Do we really want to do that?

3:09:233:09:27

-Alex?

-Well, I think we did go into the unknown

3:09:273:09:29

when most of the European countries entered the single currency

3:09:293:09:33

thinking it was the saviour of all the problems they had.

3:09:333:09:37

Since then, in the past ten years,

3:09:373:09:38

we have the EU wiped in terms of countries having to be bailed out,

3:09:383:09:42

millions of people unemployed,

3:09:423:09:44

economies crashing around their ears, welfare cuts everywhere,

3:09:443:09:47

so the notion that you will necessarily be better in the EU

3:09:473:09:51

as opposed to outside the EU, it's not clear one way or the other,

3:09:513:09:54

but the other thing I would say about all this, Mark,

3:09:543:09:56

which has really surprised me, what I hoped right at the beginning

3:09:563:09:59

was this would be a very serious debate

3:09:593:10:01

about the merit of the EU versus the demerit.

3:10:013:10:03

What we've had is two separate battles -

3:10:033:10:05

a blue on blue battle where Cameron is fighting the likes of Gove

3:10:053:10:08

and Boris Johnson, but the other battle and the more disturbing one,

3:10:083:10:11

he's fighting Nigel Farage's vision

3:10:113:10:14

of what Nigel Farage wants England to look like.

3:10:143:10:16

I think that, as someone who supports Leave,

3:10:163:10:19

I think Farage has done huge damage to that campaign.

3:10:193:10:21

Deirdre, do you think that at this stage

3:10:213:10:23

with a few days of campaigning to go,

3:10:233:10:25

most people who are going to vote on Thursday

3:10:253:10:27

have now made up their minds or do you think there is all to play for

3:10:273:10:31

and there could be a huge shift in the remaining few days?

3:10:313:10:34

I think there is huge confusion out there.

3:10:343:10:36

People are not really sure what they're being asked to vote about.

3:10:363:10:39

A lot of the debate, as has been said, has gone over their head.

3:10:393:10:42

So they really need to think about "What does this mean for me,

3:10:423:10:44

"what does this mean for my family and my community?"

3:10:443:10:47

What we do know is that we are better in a larger organisation,

3:10:473:10:52

trading with our global partners.

3:10:523:10:54

-But they don't know that. That's your opinion.

-Yes.

3:10:543:10:56

-Alex takes a very different view.

-What we are being asked to do...

3:10:563:10:59

-That's what's confusing for people.

-Or take a leap in the dark.

3:10:593:11:01

We've been told that in this leap in the dark

3:11:013:11:03

everything out there will be hunky-dory

3:11:033:11:05

but there is absolutely no evidence to support that

3:11:053:11:07

and I think people need to look at what the evidence suggests.

3:11:073:11:11

And are all these leading economists wrong?

3:11:113:11:13

OK, well, we're looking at the evidence,

3:11:133:11:15

we're all looking at the same evidence, Alex,

3:11:153:11:17

but we're drawing different conclusions.

3:11:173:11:19

Absolutely. Deirdre says about taking a leap in the dark -

3:11:193:11:21

that's exactly what people were asked to do in the 1998 referendum

3:11:213:11:25

on the Good Friday Agreement.

3:11:253:11:26

One side telling them this is a one-way ticket to united Ireland

3:11:263:11:29

and disaster and the other saying,

3:11:293:11:30

"We don't know what will happen, let's see what happens."

3:11:303:11:33

We showed, in my belief because I backed it, we showed bravery then.

3:11:333:11:36

I just don't buy into this notion

3:11:363:11:38

that either side can say with certainty,

3:11:383:11:40

"We are absolutely right or wrong." And it's not confusing, Deidre.

3:11:403:11:43

Confusion is where people genuinely don't know what is going on.

3:11:433:11:45

What we have here is people being asked to make the most

3:11:453:11:48

difficult decision in life. It's an entirely emotional decision.

3:11:483:11:51

-But it is confusion.

-It's not.

-Is it about immigration, the economy?

3:11:513:11:54

It's what they choose to make it, that's not confusion.

3:11:543:11:56

Is it about power, control? They can't compute all of those things.

3:11:563:11:59

At the end of the day, it's about

3:11:593:12:00

"How does this impact on me, how will this impact on my children?

3:12:003:12:03

"How will this impact on Northern Ireland and the future?"

3:12:033:12:05

OK. A final sentence, Alex?

3:12:053:12:07

Final sentence, I don't think they're confused.

3:12:073:12:09

I think people actually know. If there is any element of confusion,

3:12:093:12:12

they don't believe either side at the minute.

3:12:123:12:14

OK. It will be an interesting few days of campaigning

3:12:143:12:17

before the vote. Thank you both very much indeed.

3:12:173:12:20

That's it from Sunday Politics for this week.

3:12:203:12:22

Join me for Stormont Today on BBC Two at 11:15pm on Monday

3:12:223:12:25

but for now, from everyone on the team, thanks for watching. Bye-bye.

3:12:253:12:29

Andrew Neil and Mark Carruthers with the latest on the EU referendum, including interviews with remain campaigners Paddy Ashdown and Caroline Lucas and leave campaigners John Mann and Dominic Raab.


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