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'No deal’ Brexit would have 'devastating economic consequences' in Ireland

Such a scenario would have a huge impact on the all-island economy, business groups have warned.

Anti-Brexit protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday.
Anti-Brexit protesters outside the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday.
Image: Victoria Jones/PA Wire/PA Images

THE LEADING BUSINESS groups in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have warned that a ‘no deal’ Brexit would jeopardise jobs and “have devastating economic consequences for the all-island economy”.

MPs will gather in the House of Commons chamber this evening to vote on whether or not to approve the draft Withdrawal Agreement struck between the British government and the European Union.

Prime Minister Theresa May faces an uphill battle to secure the 320 votes she needs in order for her deal to pass. If MPs don’t back the deal, she has a few options including a no-deal Brexit — something people from across the political spectrum agree is not a desirable outcome. 

In advance of the vote, the Ibec/CBI Northern Ireland Joint Business Council has said a no-deal outcome must be avoided to prevent “an immediate and unprecedented economic shock”.

The Withdrawal Agreement includes provisions to limit disruption to the all-island economy post-Brexit, including a transition period and the contentious backstop which could see Northern Ireland stay aligned to the regulations of the single market and the customs union. 

An Ibec/CBI spokesperson said ratification of the deal is “vital to allow trade talks to progress”. 

‘An affront to rational thinking’

Speaking ahead of today’s vote, Ibec Director of Policy and Public Affairs Fergal O’Brien said the withdrawal deal includes important provisions to minimise economic disruption and avoid a hard border.

A ‘no deal’ outcome would profoundly exacerbate, rather than resolve the many difficult challenges that Brexit presents. These challenges would remain but would have to be addressed in a climate of political chaos and economic upheaval.

CBI NI Director Angela McGowan said many firms across Northern Ireland “simply could not cope with a no-deal Brexit”.

“Not only would it do significant harm to jobs, investment and living standards but it would put at risk the all-island economic model that has been an important factor in driving local prosperity.”

McGowan added that a ‘no deal’ scenario “brings with it unnecessary risk to the Good Friday Agreement”,

“The assurances that business have been crying out for are broadly provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement – ignoring that in pursuit of no-deal isn’t just economic recklessness, it’s an affront to rational thinking,” she stated. 

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Órla Ryan

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