Brexit should have been called off because too few voted for it, says chief Tory Brexiteer

Brexit should not have been allowed to happen with the backing of only 52 per cent of voters, a former Tory Brexit minister has said.

In a devastating admission, leading Brexiteer Steve Baker has admitted that the historic vote to leave the EU should have required a “super-majority” of 60 per cent.

The Northern Ireland Office minister made the comments as he suggested a “50 per cent plus one” majority would not be advisable for a vote on Irish unification.

The 2016 referendum on ending EU membership passed with a roughly 52 per-48 per cent split in the UK population – forcing years of turmoil before the country left in January 2020.

Mr Baker told a meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly (BIPA) that it should “probably should have been a supermajority” of at least 60 per cent to leave the bloc.

The minister said a higher threshold would have removed the difficulty of politicians and the public not accepting the result – admitting it had caused serious political “trouble”.

Responding to a question about whether he had any regrets from the Brexit campaign, Mr Baker said: “One regret is it probably should have been a supermajority.

“That’s a huge thing for me to say – because if it had been a supermajority we’d have lost and we’d still be in. But the reason I say that is if we’d had to have 60 per cent, everybody would have abided by the result.”

He added: “If it had been a 60-40 result, it’s inconceivable to me that we would have had all of the political difficulty which followed from members of parliament in particular refusing to accept the result.”

The Northern Ireland minister then cautioned against a “50 per cent plus one” result in any potential Irish unification vote. “Would anyone here seriously want a 50 per cent plus one united Ireland result in Northern Ireland?”

After some politicians murmured “yes” in response, Mr Baker warned them of the “trouble” caused by the simple majority caused in the Brexit referendum.

He said: “Just reflect on the trouble we had from running a 50 per cent plus one referendum in the United Kingdom and ask yourself whether you really want that trouble in Northern Ireland – and I don’t.”

Last year, Mr Baker apologised for his once “ferocious” stance on negotiations with the EU which he said did not always encourage Ireland to trust the UK government.

Meanwhile, Mr Baker has appealed to the Irish government to meet with the head of a new commission created under the UK government’s controversial Legacy Act.

Controversial aspects of the laws include a limited form of immunity from prosecution for Troubles-related offences to those who co-operate with the new Independent Commission for Reconciliation and Information Recovery (ICRIR).

“I hope that the Irish government will take the opportunity to meet the chief commissioner and talk with him about our work because I really do think that it was the unfinished business of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and my heart goes out to families of victims,” said Mr Baker.

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