Northern Ireland

The UK's EU referendum: Eddie Izzard debates Brexit with Sammy Wilson

Eddie Izzard
Image caption Eddie Izzard visited Methodist College in Belfast on Thursday evening as part of his 'Stand Up for Europe' campaign

The comedian Eddie Izzard has returned to Northern Ireland, where he spent part of his childhood, to campaign for the UK to stay in the European Union.

He is almost half-way through his 31-city tour of UK cities during which he is taking part in debates to encourage the public to vote to remain in the EU.

Izzard claimed a British exit (Brexit) from the EU could lead to a recession.

But his claims were rejected by Leave campaigner Sammy Wilson from the DUP who described them as "not factual".

Image caption Eddie Izzard and Sammy Wilson debated Brexit on the BBC's The View programme

The pair disagreed over a number of Brexit-related issues, including the consequences for the economy, border controls, freedom of movement and immigration.

Izzard, who lived in Bangor, County Down, from the age of one to five, visited Methodist College in Belfast on Thursday evening as part of his 'Stand Up for Europe' campaign.

Speaking to BBC Newsline, he said: "Immigration is an issue and people do get worried about it but if we change it - if we pull out then we'll go into recession.

"Then you're worried about jobs. Jobs will get even worse, You'll have even less opportunity for jobs because the economy will have gone down.

"So immigration is a thing that we need to control but I don't think Brexit - pulling out - is going to make the big difference."

However Mr Wilson told BBC NI's The View programme: "If you look at the countries which are in recession at the moment, they are the countries which are most closely tied into the EU and especially into the eurozone.

"If you look at the countries where young people don't have a chance for the future - 50% youth unemployment in Spain, Italy, the economy of Greece in ruins.

"Why? Because they tied themselves into the European project and they tied themselves into the Euro."

The referendum takes place on 23 June.

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