Ahern and Blair deliver Good Friday warning and call for second referendum

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Ahern and Blair deliver Good Friday warning and call for second referendum


British Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Reuters
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Picture: Reuters

Theresa May’s leadership has come under renewed pressure with calls on her to quit before the end of June.

Onslaughts on the embattled prime minister come as the Conservatives and Labour resume discussions on a compromise deal aimed at delivering an early and orderly Brexit. But few observers have confidence in these talks and note that the UK Labour Party is also deeply divided on the issue.

At the same time, two of the architects of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern, have combined to pen a strong message to both the Conservative and Labour leaders. The pair have warned that the 1998 agreement is under threat, but also offer a solution to the crux – while they also endorse a second Brexit referendum before the latest extension expires on October 31 next.

“Following the Good Friday Agreement, there were two referendums. The referendum in Northern Ireland, on the agreement, based on facts not promises, clarity not ambiguity, received a 71pc yes result,” the two former leaders write in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper.

“The related referendum in the Republic of Ireland achieved a 94pc yes. There is now time for a confirmatory referendum given the EU has expanded the Brexit deadline to 31 October. It is this that must be pursued, and May should take the lead in that process,” Mr Ahern and Mr Blair add.

In London, former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said Mrs May must step down as prime minister by the end of June. He warned that taking part in European Parliament elections on May 23 would be a “disaster” for the party.

The former leader said that the Conservatives were facing a “grassroots revolt” from activists over being asked to campaign for the Euro elections. Mr Duncan Smith told Sky’s ‘Sophy Ridge on Sunday’ that part of the problem was Mrs May herself.

These comments came as a new opinion poll showed the Conservatives at 29pc, down six points from a poll on March 28, and seven points behind Labour. An analysis of polls since the original intended March 29 exit day, published in the ‘Sunday Telegraph’, showed the Conservatives would lose 59 parliamentary seats if an election was held now.

Mr Duncan Smith said polling on the party was worrying and he blamed the drop on the delay to Brexit. “It was on the 29th when we didn’t leave, that’s when this has all gone wrong. Up until then people were prepared to give Theresa May the benefit of the doubt,” he said.

Mrs May’s de facto deputy, David Lidington, confirmed that the Conservative-Labour talks would resume this week and focus on the environment and workers’ rights.

But he said the process must speed up.

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Labour Party MPs are becoming increasingly irked by their party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s continued opposition to holding a second referendum. They are increasing pressure for him to cave in.

Irish Independent

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