7th MAY 2020 - Page 13

Business INsight
Coffee chain
District in Belfast
expansion P29
Conor Lambe:
Making sense of
Brexit P30
Job creation in
north remains
‘healthy’ P31
Business chiefs in last-ditch bid
to warn against no-deal Brexit
Gary McDonald
Business Editor
USINESS leaders in the north
have made a last-ditch appeal to MPs to back amendments to the government’s
motion on EU withdrawal and break
the Brexit deadlock.
And they have reiterated that
crashing out of the EU in 60 days
without a deal will be “an unmitigated economic disaster”.
More than a dozen representatives
from Northern Ireland’s business,
farming, trade union, community
and voluntary sectors spent six
hours in London speaking directly to the leaders of Labour, Liberal
Democrats and the SNP in a bid to
stress the need for Westminster to
unite and protect jobs, consumers
and economy.
“We didn’t miss and hit the wall in
letting them know the importance
of a cross-party consensus to avoid
a no deal,” Retail NI chief executive
Glyn Roberts said last night.
“This was a first for business, coming together as a single voice in such
numbers, and it wasn’t lost on the
Over the course of the day they
met Jeremy Corbyn (Labour), Sir
Vince Cable (Lib Dems) and Ian
Blackford (SNP Westminster leader)
as well as Secretary of State Karen
Bradley and MPs Gavin Newlands
and Stephen Gethins.
The business delegation insisted
that a stable, predictable economic and political environment is a
prerequisite for small business
growth and the jobs that this sustains, and a no-deal Brexit would put
this at risk.
NI Retail Consortium director
Aodhán Connolly told The Irish
News: “There was some robust engagement which was necessary to
explain the real Brexit consequences for business and households in
Northern Ireland.
“If there is a hard border with
checks which brings inevitable delays, with customs and with tariffs,
then we are talking about the systemic dismantling of the Northern
Ireland and Republic of Ireland supply chain that has been built up over
this past forty years.
“This will mean cost rises for shoppers across the island of Ireland and
Great Britain. These cost rises will
n MEETING OF MINDS: The Northern Ireland business delegation during yesterday’s talks in London to stress the need for Westminster to unite and protect jobs
hit Northern Ireland worst and affect the most vulnerable consumers
His warning came senior executives from Sainsbury’s, Asda, Marks
& Spencer, Lidl, Waitrose, The Co-op
and Costcutter predicted that consumers could face significant disruption to the supply of food if no Brexit
deal is struck with Brussels.
Nearly a third of food consumed in
the UK comes from the European Union and would be hit by any delays
at ports caused by a no-deal Brexit.
The imposition of tariffs and a col-
lapse in sterling as a result of crashing out of the EU could also lead
to price hikes for shoppers, they
However, Danske Bank chief economist Conor Lambe predicts that
the most likely way out of the current logjam in an approval of a revised version of Theresa May’s draft
In an article in today’s Business
Insight, he dismisses a no-deal Brexit
and a second referendum, writing:
“That leaves us with a variant of the
draft withdrawal agreement even-
tually being approved which, in my
opinion, is just about the most likely
“In the days and weeks ahead, the
prime minister looks set to go back
to the EU to try and make some
changes to the draft agreement.
These discussions are expected to
revolve around the Northern Ireland
back stop and the political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
“There is no doubt these discussions will not be easy. But the two
sides are likely to reach some agree-
ment in an attempt to move the
Brexit process forward.”
He adds: “With Parliament set
against a no-deal Brexit, there
seeming to be little appetite for another election or a second referendum, and little point in opting for a
Norway-style Brexit over full EU
membership, it’s quite possible that
the House of Commons and the various factions within it will decide to
approve an amended version of the
draft withdrawal agreement as the
only viable, and least unappealing,


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