Tony Blair says Brexit has ‘injected’ tension back into UK and Ireland's relationship
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Tony Blair says Brexit has ‘injected’ tension back into UK and Ireland's relationship

TONY BLAIR has urged leaders from the UK and Ireland to do their upmost to maintain the close relationship between the two countries after Brexit.

The former UK prime minister made the remarks during the first cross-party public hearing on Brexit in the European Parliament in Brussels this week.

Blair admitted the ongoing issues surrounding the Irish backstop had “injected” tension back into the relationship between the two countries.

One of the main architects of the Good Friday Agreement, Blair urged political leaders on all sides to come together for the future of both countries.

"In my view, the reason we managed to achieve the Good Friday Agreement and create the circumstances of peace in Northern Ireland was because the relationship between Britain and Ireland had improved so much. And because we're both partners in Europe," he said.

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"One of the things that I think is really tragic about the situation is the tension it has injected back into that relationship.

"So I think, as far as we're concerned, we have got to make it clear to people that this relationship between the Republic and the UK has got to be maintained on a basis where there is consistent, friendly relations between two sovereign countries, and in a way that keeps that border open and therefore secures the basic objectives of the Good Friday Agreement."

L TO R. Taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern with Senator George Mitchell and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at Castle Buildings Belfast, after they signed the peace agreenment that will allow the people of Northern Ireland to decide their future. Photo: RollingNews.ie/Pool

Blair went on to reiterate his desire for a second UK referendum but argued that it should be tied in with any general election.

He said: "If there isn't a deal - and I still think it's going to be very hard for this Government, because it's got such an extreme view on Brexit - then I think it's going to be hard for them to get to an agreement with the European Union.

"If it doesn't, and we face... no deal, then in my view, it is really important that this goes back to the people in a form where the people can make up their minds on Brexit as a particular issue, and it should not be mixed up with the general election, which will be on the range of issues to do with who runs the government of the UK."

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