United Ireland after Brexit: do the sums add up?

Cliff Taylor: Strategic thinking about the North’s economy is absent in Brexit debate

In the North,with no government in Stormont and the uncertainties of Brexit, investment is going to remain depressed. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

In the North,with no government in Stormont and the uncertainties of Brexit, investment is going to remain depressed. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The interests of the North’s economy have hardly featured in the debate on Brexit. It has all come down to a political negotiation and, right now, a debate on whether the backstop that would apply if there was no free trade post-Brexit would be a border on the island of Ireland or one down the middle of the Irish Sea.

Either outcome would hit the North’s economy, which needs a continuation of free trade in both directions – as indeed does the Republic. Both sides will hope this emerges from an eventual UK/EU trade deal, but, for now, that is a long way off. And the North’s politicians have not felt able to take the opportunity to propose solutions which might have allowed the North to turn into some kind of special economic zone post-Brexit.

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