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Europe supports one in eight NI jobs and delivers us peace and prosperity, says 'stay' campaign

By Michael McHugh

Published 25/02/2016

Will Straw (left) and Labour’s Vernon Coaker, the shadow secretary of state, at Titanic Quarter yesterday
Will Straw (left) and Labour’s Vernon Coaker, the shadow secretary of state, at Titanic Quarter yesterday

Trade with Europe supports approximately one in eight jobs in Northern Ireland, anti-Brexit campaigners have claimed.

Manufacturing is by far the most reliant sector, they said.

The peace programme, agriculture and security could also be threatened by leaving the European Union, according to the Britain Stronger In Europe lobby group, which includes prominent Westminster politicians.

Will Straw, executive director of the organisation, said: "People in Northern Ireland are stronger, safer and better off because of our membership of the European Union. Our EU membership supports 111,480 jobs in Northern Ireland and enables our businesses to trade freely in the world's largest free trade zone.

"It is good for jobs, good for business and good for workers."

Mr Straw said those 111,480 posts were equivalent to one in eight workers in 2011.

Figures also showed 53,614 positions were underpinned by European trade in manufacturing, 7,098 in motor trades and 5,366 in accommodation and food services.

And the European Arrest Warrant had been used to remove 150 criminals from Northern Ireland and bring another 27 to face justice since 2010.

Former Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson, who is campaigning to remain in Europe, was due to visit Belfast to launch the campaign in Northern Ireland but cancelled.

Instead, Vernon Coaker, shadow Northern Ireland secretary, joined Mr Straw for a tour of the Science Park in the Titanic Quarter, where they visited facilities working on cyber security and innovation.

Mr Coaker said a Brexit would create uncertainty over links between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

He added: "If Northern Ireland comes out of the EU, what does that mean?

"What does it mean for people criss-crossing the border? It becomes an important issue.

"Everybody seems to say: 'It'll be all right, don't worry'. That is fine, but the risk and uncertainty around that is enormous."

Elsewhere, Justice Secretary Michael Gove clashed with Downing Street by claiming that David Cameron's deal to change Britain's relationship with the EU was not legally binding and could be overturned by a prominent European court. But Mr Straw claimed that the deal was being endorsed at the UN next Wednesday.

"I think it is unfortunate timing for Michael Gove to make these rather spurious claims because it is being entrenched in international law and will be binding," he added.

"The European Court of Justice has to pay attention to this agreement. It would be extraordinary if an agreement by heads of government, agreed unanimously, was overturned by the European Court of Justice. It is clear that the hard-fought reforms that the Prime Minister achieved are legally binding and will stand."


Number of positions said to be supported by European Union

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