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Northern Ireland Brexit blueprint urges Government to set politics aside during talks

By Margaret Canning

A Brexit blueprint from business in Northern Ireland has urged the Government to put practicalities at the heart of their negotiations with the EU.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for the province to speak with "a single voice" on Brexit, and it urged that "ideology and politics" be put aside in order to focus on the practical repercussions of leaving the EU.

The UK is expected to trigger Article 50 and begin the formal process of leaving the EU by the end of this month.

The NI Chamber said it had gathered 2,000 responses from business as part of a continuous survey since June's referendum result to leave the EU. And companies are urging the Government to reach a pragmatic deal with the EU to allow trade to continue.

They urge a focus on practicalities, including avoiding a hard border with the Republic, and giving businesses certainty on the future residence rights of their EU workers.

Firms would also need clarity on hiring people from EU countries during the negoiation period.

NI Chamber president Nick Coburn said: "Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry members want practical considerations, not ideology or politics, at the heart of the Government's approach to Brexit negotiations. That also means we must establish a single Northern Ireland voice on Brexit to address key business concerns regarding skills and trade."

He said Brexit debates in Westminster didn't cover what matters for most businesses.

He added: "Most firms care little about the exact process for triggering Article 50. But they care a lot if their products are stopped by customs authorities at the border, or about an unexpected Vat hit to their cash flow, sudden changes to regulation, the inability to recruit the right people for the job - the everyday nitty-gritty of doing business across borders must be front and centre in the negotiation process.

"NI Chamber and its members stand ready to help the Government shape a pragmatic and practical approach to the coming transition, so that firms can continue to trade successfully with customers and suppliers across Europe and around the world."

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