A senior Irish politician has condemned calls for his country to leave the EU with Britain as "English nationalists causing trouble".

Former Dublin minister and current MEP Brian Hayes said so-called "Irexit" - most recently mooted by a right-wing London think-tank Policy Exchange - made him "irate".

Speaking to The Herald in Strasbourg, Mr Hayes said calls for the Republic to join the UK outside the European Union were part of an outdated outlook seeking to bring English-speaking nations together in to a trading network.

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He said: "It is deeply English nationalist view of the world that is out of date. I think they are trying to cause trouble. "A large element of the English nationalism behind Brexit was not about ostensibly about English independence. It was also about trying to take apart the post world war two settlement and its mazing international peace process called the EU. Causing trouble with Ireland is part of that agenda."

"But the more English nationalists speak out the easier it is to win the argument in Ireland. They never had our interests at heart."

Earlier this month Conservative-supporting Policy Exchange suggested Ireland would be better off sticking with Britain rather than the EU.

In a document drawn up by a former Irish diplomat, Ray Bassett, it said: “In the circumstances, Ireland must give serious consideration to other options, including Irexit.

"Whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations, there will be a price to pay. For Ireland, there is really no upside to Brexit."

Mr Hayes, of Fine Gael, is one of several voices to reject such a proposal, championed by hard-right commenter Melanie Phillips who has previously said Ireland has a "tenuous claim to nationhood". Scottish nationalists and devolutionists have also been alarmed by the rhetoric on Ireland.

Mr Hayes, however, stressed the Republic, if forced to choose, would stick with the EU. He said: "I think at one level the British decision to leave the EU psychologically has made the made the connection between the EU and Ireland firmer.

"If Britain is going in one direction, instinctively we will go in the opposite. Most people in Ireland of a certain age can remember the 1970s and the 1980s, which were not good times, with high interest rates, unemployment and emigration."

Mr Hayes was referring to considerable economic and financial sway Britain had over Ireland for years after independence when the republic used the UK currency or its own currency pegged to the pound.

He added: "The argument we never really gained our independence until we joined the EU. If the British devalued, we devalued, if the BOE changed its interest rates, we did it within seconds. 70% of our trade in the 1970s was with the UK. Now by a ratio of three to one our trade is with the other 26 nations and not Britain. We have diversified and internationalised.

"The EU has helped us find our place in the world and come to terms with the whole Northern Ireland Issue. Progress has been made from Dublin and London because of our joint membership of the EU. Britain had to come to terms with our independence."

Ireland received substantial aid from the EU and has quickly developed bloc-wide trade links. "We are now a net contributor," Mr Hayes said. "We are wealthy country paying in to the EU."