Belfast Telegraph

Home Business Brexit

Northern Ireland a 'special' case in the EU referendum debate, MPs insist

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland warrants "special attention" in debate over the EU referendum, an influential committee of MPs has said.

The NI Affairs Committee said due consideration should be given to the fact that Northern Ireland was the UK region most dependent on trade with the EU, and the only location to have a land border with an EU state.

And it said that a post-Brexit deal between the EU and World Trade Organisation would be "hugely damaging" to farmers in NI.

The report said: "Northern Ireland's greater exposure to the EU is largely due to its relationship with the Republic of Ireland.

"The ability of farmers and companies to do business across the border and for continued cooperation between governments in a range of areas, including trade promotion and policing, in the event that the UK leaves the EU, are fundamental to the potential impact on Northern Ireland."

And the report appeared to sound a pessimistic note on the potential for Westminster to replace any lost EU funding or subsidies to Northern Ireland in the event of Brexit.

"In the event of a vote to leave the EU, it is imperative that Northern Ireland's economic priorities, such as gaining a good deal for agricultural and manufactured goods, are given due prominence by the UK government in any subsequent negotiations.

"However, the likelihood of this cannot be guaranteed."

And it said that the impact of Brexit on the flow of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Northern Ireland was not clear and that alternative free trade agreements could redress any damage done to the attractiveness of the province in the event of Brexit.

There are six Northern Ireland MPs on the committee, which also includes pro-Brexit Labour MP Kate Hoey.

Belfast Telegraph