Belfast Telegraph

Future of the economy rests in the hands of voters

By Margaret Canning

The mood which overtakes a voter in the ballot box is hard to predict. Yet the future of the Northern Ireland economy rests on how voters in Great Britain decide on May 7.

The Conservative Party has promised renegotiation of its membership of the EU - and/or an in or out referendum on the EU, if it emerges as the most powerful party after D-Day.

Yesterday Alan Bridle, chief economist with Bank of Ireland UK, reflected on the possible ramifications for Northern Ireland in the event of a 'Brexit'.

His conclusion was it would not be good for us. No doubt some small firms would relish the prospect of being free of at least some of the red tape which comes with EU.

But the complexities of sorting out trade with our nearest neighbours in the Republic would pose a massive headache.

And having granted us corporation tax devolution - a measure which cleared the House of Commons yesterday - what would be the British appetite for taking Northern Ireland's unique position under consideration in the new political order?

There is also the imponderable of how Northern Ireland's attractiveness to foreign direct investors from America might be affected.

It's hard to see any more than a faintly discernible silver lining for the province at the prospect - so let's hope it never happens.

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