Northern Ireland Office divided over stance on looming referendum
The divisions in the Conservative Party over the EU referendum are mirrored inside the Northern Ireland Office.
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has been a prominent supporter of the Brexit camp, while her Parliamentary under-secretary Ben Wallace is staunchly pro-EU.
Mr Wallace, who previously worked as an overseas business development director in the aerospace industry, said the case for staying was overwhelming.
Speaking at a CBI Brexit discussion in Belfast yesterday, he said: "I can't see what we would gain by leaving. The EU, for all its problems, provides us with a great stable place to do business. Northern Ireland exports to the EU are worth £3.6bn.
"We need access to markets that can afford to buy our goods and our manufacturers want to feed into European supply chains. That's a key issue for local companies, including those who trade easily with the Republic."