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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Hello, and welcome to Sunday Politics.
Amid the shock of the murder of the MP Jo Cox,
the EU referendum campaign enters its final days.
The argument that a Brexit could destabilise the UK
has been dismissed this weekend by a former Ulster Unionist leader
and senior party figures.
I don't believe people should underestimate the risk that
this would begin the process
by which the United Kingdom could begin to unravel.
No. If we Brexit and the Republic of Ireland obviously stays
as a part of the EU, we can have a special relationship.
With me in the studio, the leaders of the Remain
and the Leave campaigns here debate the subject one last time
before Thursday's vote. And we'll hear what our guests of the day,
Deirdre Heenan and Alex Kane, have to say
as the debate enters the home straight.
Official campaigning has resumed in the EU referendum
after the murder of the Labour MP Jo Cox.
Here, there's been an intervention by former and current
senior Ulster Unionist figures, who have written to party members
urging them to vote Leave on Thursday.
They reject what they call "dishonest scaremongering"
that a vote to leave will undermine peace in Northern Ireland.
In a moment we'll hear from one of them, but first to that warning
about the impact a Brexit could have here.
Richard Haass is a former US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland
who chaired talks to resolve the deadlock at Stormont, of course.
Speaking to me from his office in New York,
he told me that in his view the consequences of a Leave vote
could be damaging for people here.
I do think peace in Northern Ireland
should not be taken for granted.
I'm not suggesting that the morning after a vote for Brexit
there would be riots in the street.
That's the caricature of what I intended.
I am worried, though, that a vote for Brexit could very well lead
to a new referendum in Scotland,
and I believe the argument for remaining in the EU
would carry the day there.
Then if you move from a United Kingdom to something less,
I believe the pressures will grow in Northern Ireland
quite possibly for a border poll,
and again the EU argument could come to the fore.
There will be those who'll want to
stay in the EU and that could be an argument for joining with Ireland.
There will be those, obviously, the unionists, who would oppose that
and I think you could see a situation where the ultimate fate,
what we would call in other situations final status issues,
would come to the fore in Northern Ireland,
and I just don't assume that that's a situation where
tempers would flare and once again we would see some signs of violence.
Look, I'd love to be wrong here.
I have been called a scaremonger and other things,
-and first of all I hope that Brexit doesn't happen.
But if it were to happen, I don't believe people should underestimate
the risk that this would begin the process
by which the United Kingdom could begin to unravel.
Isn't it the case that the kind of political regression you describe
is less likely than ever here
because now we've got a DUP and Sinn Fein coalition in charge at Stormont
in which both sides are very publicly committed
to working together for at least the next five years?
Doesn't that change the political landscape?
Of course it does. And I think
the Stormont House Agreement was obviously a welcome development.
I think the fact that people are saying the things they're saying,
that you're beginning to see a bit of cooperation, all that's good.
All I'm saying, it takes place
against a backdrop of many unresolved issues
and it takes place potentially against a backdrop of Brexit.
Again, don't get me wrong,
there is nothing more I would like to see
than Northern Ireland to continue down the path of political progress,
of normalcy, of reconciliation,
and where ultimately neighbourhoods weren't divided,
schools weren't divided and the parties weren't defined
by essentially political, religious traditions.
I want to see the Northern Ireland come about
where parties are defined by basic questions of the role of government
and the economy or the relationship of individuals to societies
which is the way political parties are defined in most of the world.
But let's not kid ourselves. We are not at this point.
And my concern about Brexit is it could actually be a major challenge
to the ability of Northern Ireland's leaders,
who, with all due respect, have often shown limited ability to lead.
It is my view that this is a real challenge
and it is for this reason also I question the decision, say,
of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland to favour Brexit.
I don't understand,
in some ways to turn around what you just said to me,
why people would potentially put in jeopardy the progress that has been
realised over the last 15 years
and over the last one to two years in particular.
That is why I don't believe that Brexit is a wise path to go down.
Richard Haass in New York.
And two former Prime Ministers, Sir John Major and Tony Blair,
have made the same point and that's provoked a response
from the likes of Lords Trimble and Kilclooney,
as well as the former Ulster Unionist MP, David Burnside.
Our political correspondent, Gareth Gordon, spoke to Mr Burnside
yesterday and asked him why,
when the UUP says the Brexit vote is a matter for individual members,
he felt it necessary to speak up in such a high-profile way.
Because we are coming to probably
the most important decision in my lifetime that this country has made
and if we get it wrong, I think
it will be seriously damaging for this country.
I regard the uncertainty of remaining in the EU as
the biggest threat to the EU and a great opportunity if we leave,
so I and a lot of former Ulster Unionist colleagues decided
we wanted to express our views.
We're no more expert than anybody else but we have
a bit of experience on the subject and we feel very strongly about it.
It'll be good for Northern Ireland and good for the UK to leave.
You say in the letter that Ulster unionism has always been
first and foremost about protecting the sovereignty and independence
of the entire UK, but what about those who would say
that a Brexit vote could lead to the break-up of the UK, or even more so,
since we're here, a united Ireland?
No. Well, let's take the two examples that might be under most threat -
Scotland, the most pressing one in recent years with the recent
referendum for staying in the union.
There are people scaremongering, Sturgeon scaremongering in Scotland
saying she will call for another referendum if UK leaves.
That's the last thing she wants.
She would hate that to happen
cos she knows in the opinion polls in Scotland and the reality,
the real opinion polls, the election in Scotland,
that probably 10% of the population in Scotland who are voting SNP
in a local parliament election in Scotland are pro-union,
so she would lose another vote and she doesn't want to lose twice.
If you take Northern Ireland,
all the threats and scaremongering about we're going to have...
I'm old enough to remember Triptiks, that triangle you used to
stick, my father used to stick on the front of the car when
you crossed the border custom posts,
there's no reason we should have that if we Brexit and
the Republic of Ireland obviously stays as a part of the EU.
We can have a special relationship.
Our letter points out, in the Belfast Agreement,
we set up North-South co-operation between North and South,
we set up the North-West East-West Council,
we can work out a deal where travel will be as easy as it is now,
North and South. On immigration control,
yes, we would need to look at new arrangements
but immigration is a major, major threat to the United Kingdom,
and the British government, Conservative or Labour,
have not dealt with the problem.
But what about the growing number of Catholics here who may have been
described as soft nationalists
but are relatively happy with the status quo here -
will they not be unnerved by a Brexit?
-No, I don't think so.
-Are you sure?
I'm not sure. I'm not sure until next Thursday.
And I don't accept this sectarian headcount any longer about
the Prods who are just voting for the union
and the Catholics who are voting for a united Ireland.
That is not correct. It's not correct in the opinion polls.
It's not correct the breakdown of the parties. You know, Gareth,
at the last election it was the nationalist vote
that was falling, it wasn't the unionist vote.
-But that could change if there's a Brexit.
-Of course it can.
There are Catholics voting for the Ulster Unionist Party.
There are Catholics who vote for the Alliance Party.
There are Catholics voting for parties,
admittedly most of them are Remain,
but the Ulster Unionist Party, my party, basically is
like the Conservative Party, you can do what you want.
And I think there will be a lot of unionists who will vote to leave
and I think there will be a lot of Catholics, whether unionist
or soft nationalists, looking at the interests,
their economic interests and stability in the future,
will be voting to leave.
David Burnside there, and with me now are the organisers
of the Leave and Remain campaigns here - Lee Reynolds and Tom Kelly.
Welcome to you both. Tom Kelly, first of all,
I'll come to the comments of David Burnside and Richard Haass
in just a moment, but the murder of Jo Cox on Thursday
has cast a pall over the last week of campaigning.
Both sides called off their activities, as we know,
for a period of over 48 hours.
What impact is that having for your respective campaigns?
I think first of all that it gives us all a period of reflection.
Anybody involved in politics at all
should be reflecting on the values that Jo Cox represented,
and to get people to understand that differences are just that -
differences of opinion.
They are not a call to action for people to go and do things.
That's not... The problem is that people,
with language comes responsibility,
and sometimes that has been careless, and I think
that has made everybody sit back and look at the language
they've been using over the past number of weeks
and tempering that language, and trying to get people to,
if you want to use that Portadown expression, wind their necks in.
What kind of impact has it had on your campaign, Lee Reynolds?
Firstly, when you see such a tragedy,
you want to express your sympathy and respect for the family,
and the tragic time and situation they're dealing with.
It also gave us a sense and an opportunity to reflect
on where politics is going and the need to improve debate.
Lord Ashdown has said this morning
he's ashamed at the tone of the campaign.
Do you share his view, Tom Kelly?
Do you perhaps agree with him?
Do you feel in any way responsible for that?
No, I don't.
Because I have my own personal record to stand on
for the past 15, 20 years
and I am very conscious of the use of language
and it's something I continually harp on about in my own columns.
I continually harangue politicians for it
and I think that the level of debate, political debate,
has descended so badly over the past number of months on this
and fears have been unrealistically stoked up.
Then you get consequences to these things.
And that's on all sides of political debate.
So my view is that people need to take a stand back,
cooling-off period, and actually start to think about
what this society needs and what type of society we want to be.
Much has been made of the toxicity of the debate in recent weeks.
Lee Reynolds, it has to be said
it has been a lot less toxic in Northern Ireland
than it has been across the water.
Well, yes. We've tried as much as we possibly can
to make the positive case
for Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom leaving European Union.
That is the position, we've tried to sell the positive case
to people in Northern Ireland.
That's how we've designed and shaped the campaign.
We knew the national messages would get through the national media
but very much we wanted to sell it
as "This is why it's good for the people of Northern Ireland."
OK. So, on that, if perhaps not very much else,
the two of you absolutely are in agreement, is that right?
-OK. Let's talk about Richard Haass and David Burnside.
Richard Haass, first of all, has helped...
Or has Richard Haass helped the Remain campaign, do you think,
Tom Kelly, by suggesting a vote to leave on Thursday
could trigger violence and political gridlock?
I didn't hear how at the start he articulated this point of view
but I've heard him now this morning
and my view is, yes, I can understand where he's coming from.
It doesn't take a lot to destabilise people at Stormont.
It is always stop, go, stop, go,
and there are huge issues on the agenda still unresolved.
We saw them last week with Loughinisland,
we saw them with the Kingsmills murders,
people take diametrically opposed views and from those
you get destabilisation. Then you throw, into the cocktail mix
of the normal instability between the two sides,
constitutional issues, and then all of a sudden it's all up for grabs.
So are you saying you agree with him
that there could be violence and political gridlock
if there is a vote to leave on Thursday?
Well, Mark, I'm of that generation that was robbed of their actual...
what they were entitled to as a generation -
to live in a place free and happy and at peace,
and I've seen how people my age got drawn in on both sides to issues,
mainly over the border, mainly over constitutional issues,
and I have watched the same slide happening again with the dissidents,
and therefore it doesn't take an awful lot for
powerful people with powerful messages to get out there and
get into communities, particularly working-class communities,
and destabilise those at a grassroots level.
I believe that's a genuine fear.
Does it concern you, Lee Reynolds, that a respected international
figure like Richard Haass, who knows this place very well,
has said what he has said?
Well, as someone who saw Richard Haass up close and personal
during the last Haass process,
his misjudged intervention was no surprise to me
considering how he mishandled his own process.
That's what that is, in your view?
Yes, it is, and it's also...
It's just a genuine insult to the people of Northern Ireland.
We are not some blood-crazed group of people who at the drop...
-I don't think he's suggesting that.
-He's suggesting that
a democratic vote would result in a deterioration into violence.
We have had peace here for 20 years because people wanted,
have maintained it and have kept it going.
That is what we will do.
We can defeat the dissident terrorist organisations and we will.
Our security forces are already having very substantial success
in dealing with them, and it's not only because there are new techniques and all the rest of it,
because they are getting the support and information from the ground.
But his point is a simple point, distilled down - why would you
jeopardise what has been achieved by leaping in the dark?
It isn't a leap in the dark, it's a step towards progress.
It's a step towards more. If we leave the European Union
we're actually empowering London and Belfast.
How much of a shot in the arm, then, to your campaign
do you think the letter from that group of unionist grandees has been?
Every section of society that comes forward and endorses your campaign
and encourages people to vote for you is of obvious benefit for you.
So you're pretty happy to hear what David Burnside had to say?
I welcome it, because it's true.
There is not a threat to the peace process by a democratic vote.
-OK. Tom Kelly?
-Well, I'm kind of incredulous because
I've never heard so many unionists being so enthusiastic for cross-border relations
and what's going on on the ground,
because that's the first time you really hear that.
The overwhelming praise for David Trimble,
it's a long time coming, but I'm sure he appreciates it
even though it's on the wrong issue.
I think ultimately what we have here
are a group of people who are completely out of touch,
they're of a generation who are ideologically opposed, for years,
to the whole concept of Europe and the whole togetherness of Europe.
Therefore they find it difficult,
when provided an opportunity for a referendum, which, let's face it,
nobody particularly wanted,
this is a battle about the Tory party leadership...
Are you guilty here of conflating two things?
You don't know what any of those individuals think about Europe.
They may not like the European Union
but that's not the same as saying they don't like Europe.
I know what one or two of them do
because I was speaking to them in the airport the other day.
But there is a very important point to be made -
Europe is not the European Union.
Boris Johnson is a good example of that.
He doesn't particularly like the European Union
-but he's a big supporter of Europe.
-Boris Johnson, to my mind,
is the most disingenuous person when it comes to the EU.
I've heard him speak. I'm the chairman of Square Mile magazine
in the City of London. I've had him at our own dinners.
I've heard him giving the most Europhile speeches
in terms of support of the EU
and his recent conversion is more to do with getting into Number 10.
The unfortunate thing from my point of view is
the number of jobs he may cost in society to get that one job.
Right. Let's talk about the campaign so far and where you think
it goes from here. The most recent polls, Lee Reynolds,
seem to suggest there has been a shift in the public mood
towards Leave. Do you believe that is the case?
In Northern Ireland, yes, we do believe that to be the case.
-Just in Northern Ireland?
-Also nationally, we've seen it as well.
Right, so right across the whole UK, including Northern Ireland?
-Right. To what extent? To the extent that
you can now relax and take your foot off the gas?
No, no, absolutely not. When we entered this campaign,
we were convinced that we were the underdog.
We knew any victory we would achieve would be a very hard-fought one,
and we will not be stopping the battle to win the vote on Thursday
until ten o'clock on Thursday.
But do you believe as we speak today, Sunday,
before the vote on Thursday, that you will be successful on Thursday?
I believe we can be successful. It is on a knife edge.
There is very significant...
The polls, I believe, nationally are correct.
We're within the margin of error. Every single vote will count
but this is the thing, it's on Thursday, who turns up,
and the battle is to get people to go and express their democratic will
-and I hope they vote Leave.
-And, Tom Kelly, do you believe
the direction of travel is indeed towards Leave?
I think that on Thursday
we will get an overwhelming clear majority for Remain,
both in Northern Ireland and across the United Kingdom.
I've been thinking that for quite a while.
I don't accept the underdog argument from the largest party in Northern Ireland at all.
They have been a dominant force in politics for the past nine years,
so I don't particularly accept that, but the bottom line is, for me,
I think people have to internalise this referendum for themselves.
It is about how it impacts YOUR family, how it impacts YOUR job.
I think a lot of the politicians, a lot of the debate on
the national campaign has gone over their heads in relation to that,
but I think when people internalise it,
I think they'll make the right choice.
All right. Gentleman, thanks both very much for joining us today.
Let's hear what my guests of the day, Alex Kane and Deirdre Heenan,
make of all that. Alex, first,
will Mike Nesbitt be disappointed at the intervention by
senior current and former members of his party, do you think?
I think he will be, but it's not particularly surprising.
I think if Nesbitt had done better in the Assembly election,
if he'd pulled in extra votes, another couple of percent,
maybe two or three seats, they would have left him alone.
They sense a bit of weakness, and my experience of the UUP,
when they sense weakness in the leader, they tend to go for him,
-and that is what we are seeing.
-What about that intervention
from the Ulster Unionists and also what Richard Haass had to say?
Well, I think in many ways
people are beginning to be confused by the whole issue.
Richard Haass has talked about the peace process.
When John Major and Tony Blair came to the University of Ulster
we talked about the peace process,
but in reality they talked at length about trade and the economy.
I think we are in danger of losing the main issue here.
When people are asked to vote, they will be asked to vote
about leaving the largest single market in the world.
And what are the likely implications?
David Burnside has said he's as much as an expert as everyone else -
well, really there are experts out there,
there's the World Trade Organisation, the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the Treasury.
Are we to say that they're all wrong, that they're all deluded?
They are saying this is likely to lead to uncertainty,
recession, a downturn, inflation,
investors turning their face against the UK.
Are we to say they're all on the gravy train,
that they're all corrupt? Of course they're not.
I think we have to look at the evidence. Lee talked about progress.
We are going into the unknown here. Do we really want to do that?
-Well, I think we did go into the unknown
when most of the European countries entered the single currency
thinking it was the saviour of all the problems they had.
Since then, in the past ten years,
we have the EU wiped in terms of countries having to be bailed out,
millions of people unemployed,
economies crashing around their ears, welfare cuts everywhere,
so the notion that you will necessarily be better in the EU
as opposed to outside the EU, it's not clear one way or the other,
but the other thing I would say about all this, Mark,
which has really surprised me, what I hoped right at the beginning
was this would be a very serious debate
about the merit of the EU versus the demerit.
What we've had is two separate battles -
a blue on blue battle where Cameron is fighting the likes of Gove
and Boris Johnson, but the other battle and the more disturbing one,
he's fighting Nigel Farage's vision
of what Nigel Farage wants England to look like.
I think that, as someone who supports Leave,
I think Farage has done huge damage to that campaign.
Deirdre, do you think that at this stage
with a few days of campaigning to go,
most people who are going to vote on Thursday
have now made up their minds or do you think there is all to play for
and there could be a huge shift in the remaining few days?
I think there is huge confusion out there.
People are not really sure what they're being asked to vote about.
A lot of the debate, as has been said, has gone over their head.
So they really need to think about "What does this mean for me,
"what does this mean for my family and my community?"
What we do know is that we are better in a larger organisation,
trading with our global partners.
-But they don't know that. That's your opinion.
-Alex takes a very different view.
-What we are being asked to do...
-That's what's confusing for people.
-Or take a leap in the dark.
We've been told that in this leap in the dark
everything out there will be hunky-dory
but there is absolutely no evidence to support that
and I think people need to look at what the evidence suggests.
And are all these leading economists wrong?
OK, well, we're looking at the evidence,
we're all looking at the same evidence, Alex,
but we're drawing different conclusions.
Absolutely. Deirdre says about taking a leap in the dark -
that's exactly what people were asked to do in the 1998 referendum
on the Good Friday Agreement.
One side telling them this is a one-way ticket to united Ireland
and disaster and the other saying,
"We don't know what will happen, let's see what happens."
We showed, in my belief because I backed it, we showed bravery then.
I just don't buy into this notion
that either side can say with certainty,
"We are absolutely right or wrong." And it's not confusing, Deidre.
Confusion is where people genuinely don't know what is going on.
What we have here is people being asked to make the most
difficult decision in life. It's an entirely emotional decision.
-But it is confusion.
-Is it about immigration, the economy?
It's what they choose to make it, that's not confusion.
Is it about power, control? They can't compute all of those things.
At the end of the day, it's about
"How does this impact on me, how will this impact on my children?
"How will this impact on Northern Ireland and the future?"
OK. A final sentence, Alex?
Final sentence, I don't think they're confused.
I think people actually know. If there is any element of confusion,
they don't believe either side at the minute.
OK. It will be an interesting few days of campaigning
before the vote. Thank you both very much indeed.
That's it from Sunday Politics for this week.
Join me for Stormont Today on BBC Two at 11:15pm on Monday
but for now, from everyone on the team, thanks for watching. Bye-bye.
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.