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Brexit would hinder British-Irish trade, says Chamber chief

By Colm Kelpie

The deep economic connections between the UK and Ireland are often taken for granted, the head of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce has warned.

At an event organised by the Chamber in Manchester yesterday, John McGrane said that while trade between the UK and Ireland would not cease in the event of a vote for Brexit on June 23, it would decrease and would be worth less.

He told the audience, which included the Republic's Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan: "We often take for granted that we are joined at the economic hip.

"This isn't about alarmism. We're all grown-up enough to know that the world won't stop (if a Brexit occurs), but less business will be done the more we put up a barrier in the way of trade.

"What we don't want is that somebody in the aftermath of walking over this cliff, if that's what happens, begins to realise that we have created so many impediments."

Mr McGrane's speech came as a poll showed that while British businesses were evenly divided on a Brexit, most voters want to remain.

The Republic's Foreign Affairs Minister Mr Flanagan told the event there were deep connections to Ireland in Manchester.

"By the mid 1800s, 10% of the population was Irish, and today the annual Manchester Irish Festival is the largest in the UK and one of the biggest in the world," he added.

"Our business connections are very strong, with major Irish-owned companies such as CRH, Jurys Inns, Glanbia, Kerry Foods and the ABP Food Group investing in the area."

A day after Leave campaigners suggested a post-Brexit Britain would impose a points system for immigration, Mr Flanagan also suggested that this would pose problems for other EU countries.

His speaking engagement was the final one in a two-day visit to Liverpool and Manchester that was part of a push to encourage Irish people in the UK to vote in the referendum.

There were no pro-Brexit voices at the events, which also heard warnings that some form of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic would be reintroduced if the UK voted for a Brexit.

The Leave campaign has disputed the claim, insisting that the border will remain open no matter what.

Belfast Telegraph