Negotiating good terms to remain in the single market is crucial: Queen's expert
Brexit could leave the UK in an economic mess which may take up to a decade to bring under control, a political expert has said.
Dr Lee McGowan took part in an event last night hosted by the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell, aimed at answering some of the outstanding questions about Brexit.
He said: "We've entered uncharted territory and we don't know exactly where we're headed."
Dr McGowan, who is a senior lecturer in the School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen's University, was one of a number of panellists invited to take part in the question and answer session.
Speaking ahead of the event, he said: "The big issue is whether the UK gets access to the single market.
"If they can do that, then it should be ok - but if that doesn't happen, then there will be issues.
"The thing is that it will be up to the EU member states to discuss and decide the terms and then they will come to the UK with their offer.
"It will then be up to the UK to decide whether to accept those terms and this raises the question as to whether there will be another referendum.
"Essentially, other economic negotiations can't take place until we know exactly what the UK is doing regarding the single market."
Dr McGowan said if the UK leaves the single market it will take between five and 10 years to negotiate trade deals.
"Even if we remain in the single market we have no say over how it is run," he continued.
"We won't actually be around the table when it comes to future decision-making, so actually the UK will have less control."
Leaving the EU will also have ramifications for agriculture and farming in Northern Ireland, as they will pass back to the control of Stormont as opposed to Westminster, said Dr McGowan.
"It is fascinating for political scientists and economists but Brexit actually leaves the UK in a huge mess," he said.