Northern Ireland's deputy leader Martin McGuinness called Friday for a vote to unite the two sides of the Irish border just as Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon also said a referendum on Scottish independence was “highly likely” after the Brexit referendum resulted in a decision on the United Kingdom leaving the EU.
After 56 percent of Northern Irish voters sought to remain in the EU compared to the 52 percent of the United Kingdom as a whole who voted to leave, Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness demanded that London call a referendum on a united Ireland.
"The British government now has no democratic mandate to represent the views of the North in any future negotiations with the European Union and I do believe that there is a democratic imperative for a 'border poll' to be held," McGuinness told national Irish broadcaster RTE.
"The implications for all of us on the island of Ireland are absolutely massive. This could have very profound implications for our economy (in Northern Ireland)."
Ireland has the EU's fastest-growing economy but also more to lose from Brexit than any other member state, with far-reaching implications for its trade, economy, security of energy supplies and peace in British-ruled Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile Scotland also voted in favor of staying in the EU in Thursday’s referendum by a margin of 62 to 38 percent, putting it at odds with Britain as a whole.
"It is a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be on the table and it is on the table," Sturgeon told reporters. "I think an independence referendum is now highly likely.”
Sturgeon said it would be “democratically unacceptable” for Scotland to be forced to leave the EU through Britain’s exit when Scottish people clearly voted for staying in the bloc.
"I want to make it absolutely clear today that I intend to take all possible steps and explore all options to give effect to how people in Scotland voted, in other words to secure our continuing place in the EU and in the single market," she added.
Scotland held a referendum on whether to separate from the U.K. in 2014, when 44 percent of Scottish voters favored a more for independence. Sturgeon said that she was proud of how Scotland voted in the Brexit referendum.