Over 50 leading NI companies warn of no-deal threat to ‘political stability’
Companies including Coca Cola, Norbrook Laboratories write open letter to British MPs
Organisations and colleges such as the Confederation of British Industry, the Construction Employers Federation, Queen’s University and Ulster University also are signatories to the letter. Photograph: iStock
More than 50 leading Northern Ireland based companies have written an open letter to British MPs warning of the threat to the North’s “political stability” and economy in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The firms, which warn of companies “being hugely exposed to the economic fallout from leaving the EU with no-deal”, represent a broad swathe of the Northern Ireland business community.
They include companies such as aerospace manufacturers Bombardier and Thales; banks such as First Trust, Dankse and Barclays; agri-food companies such as Fane Valley and Avondale Foods; Norbrook Laboratories, the Quinn Building Group and Coca Cola.
In the letter, MPs who are scheduled to vote on an EU withdrawal agreement in the coming week are told that the private sector across Northern Ireland is currently responsible for 560,000 jobs and has ambitions to create many more.
“However, a no-deal Brexit will result in significant damage to our export markets, supply chains, consumer spending power and the region’s competitiveness,” the companies warn.
MPs are also told about what the companies see as a threat to peace.
“The private sector has consistently stated that peace and prosperity are mutually dependent. A no-deal Brexit will undoubtedly result in creating regulatory and tariff differences across the island of Ireland and will therefore have direct consequences for border checks and crossings,” they state in the letter.
“We therefore urge MPs across the UK to consider the damaging impact on Northern Ireland’s economy and political stability in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” they add.
“The peace and economic progress that flowed from the Belfast/ Good Friday Agreement cannot be overlooked at this critical time in the UK’s history. All Members of Parliament must consider the burden of responsibility that they now carry for this region’s future.”
The letter continues, “Although Brexit has not yet happened, the negative economic impact is already starting to bite in terms of the private sector’s ability to invest. Northern Ireland industry also notes with much regret, uncertainty around future funding for local infrastructure given the immediate loss of approximately £450 million from the European Regional Development Fund which was once earmarked for significant infrastructure projects.
“The uncertainty linked with Brexit has additionally contributed to significant skill and labour shortages.
“Local businesses believe that the failure to approve a deal with Europe on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will have significant repercussions for the local economy. Such a scenario will both hinder indigenous and foreign direct investment, it would result in significant job losses and will stifle opportunities for the next generation across Northern Ireland.”