No-deal Brexit could cost Northern Ireland €5.7bn over 15 years

Confederation of British Industry warns of ‘devastating’ economic impact

A road sign on the Border between Donegal and Derry. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

A no-deal Brexit could cost the Northern Irish economy nearly £5 billion (€5.7 billion) over the next 15 years and would be both "devastating" and "unmanageable", the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) is warning.

A new analysis published on Tuesday by the CBI outlines the business and economic impacts of a no-deal Brexit across each each region and nation in the UK and shows Northern Ireland could be one the areas most exposed to the “economic fallout” from leaving the EU.

The CBI has calculated that if the UK crashes out of the EU, the North stands to lose almost £5 billion by 2034 – more than the annual public spending budget on hospitals, GP surgeries and other healthcare services in Northern Ireland.

The business body’s Northern Ireland director believes that in a no-deal Brexit scenario jobs, livelihoods and living standards in the North would be hard hit for “decades” to come.


Angela McGowan said:“CBI members across Northern Ireland are clear: if the new approach to finding a Brexit deal continues to be a game of who blinks first, the Northern Irish economy will pay the price.

“Like the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland is not – and cannot be – ready for no deal. The projected impact on our economy would be devastating and while business will do all it can to reduce some of the worst aspects, a no deal scenario is unmanageable.”

The CBI has highlighted that the North’s manufacturing sector and agri-food sector are “particularly exposed to the risk of higher tariffs and trade costs” if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.

The business body said because 57 per cent of Northern Irish goods exports are destined for EU markets, any increased trade friction or added costs and delays would have a severe impact.

The business body has spoken to thousands of businesses across the UK as part of their latest research to hear their views on the current Brexit stalemate.

Bombardier stance

Bombardier, one of Northern Ireland’s largest private sector employers, told the CBI it was “advocating for an orderly Brexit”.

“This continued uncertainty, and the real prospect of leaving the EU with no deal, does not help with business planning. It is imperative that parliament finds a resolution that works for UK business,” the Canadian aerospace giant stated.

Moy Park, which employs more than 9,000 people in Northern Ireland, said: “Given the industry’s reliance on labour, our spread of customers in the UK and globally, any disruption to our business will inevitably add cost and put additional strain into our supply chain, especially around delivery of our fresh product.”

Others, such as the shed manufacturer Yardmaster, set out a grimmer outlook in their discussions with the CBI about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

“If there are going to be tariff barriers,” the Draperstown, Co Derry, business told the CBI, “then why would we continue to manufacture sheds for the European market in the UK, in Northern Ireland, when there’s other manufacturing space in mainland Europe?”

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business