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Prime Minister urged to address concerns of Northern Ireland firms over Brexit

Tory chairman Brandon Lewis (left) congratulates new party leader and Boris Johnson
Tory chairman Brandon Lewis (left) congratulates new party leader and Boris Johnson
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Businesses in Northern Ireland have called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to take "swift and decisive action" to address their concerns over Brexit and help restore power-sharing.

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The former Foreign Secretary yesterday scored a comfortable victory over leadership rival Jeremy Hunt as Conservative Party members voted for a new leader and resident of 10 Downing Street.

Ann McGregor, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said he needed to address the "deep frustration" of the business community as it faces an uncertain future.

"Industry leaders will look to him for support on business and the economy as we traverse the most significant period of change and uncertainty the UK has faced in a generation," she said.

"Companies want to see a pro-business approach from the offset."

And she called on him to come up with a definite plan for Brexit.

"Specifically, he must deliver a sensible and pragmatic plan to break the Brexit impasse, demonstrating that the new government is fully committed to avoiding a messy and disorderly exit on October 31," she added.

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"Whilst there is absolutely no appetite for a no-deal exit, the government must simultaneously step-up and provide businesses with the urgent support they need to plan for all scenarios."

She also urged Mr Johnson to take steps to inject "momentum and confidence" into the economy and work to restore power-sharing at Stormont. "The stakes are high, swift and decisive action is needed," she added.

Meanwhile, Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts urged Mr Johnson to "hit the ground running" by securing a Brexit withdrawal deal.

"A no-deal is simply not an option that should even be considered given the economic devastation it would cause Northern Ireland with the loss of 40,000 jobs," he said.

And he echoed the call for the new prime minister to work with the parties, urging him to take on a "hands-on role" in the bid to restore devolution.

Earlier this month, a report by the Department for the Economy said a no-deal Brexit could cost 40,000 jobs in Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph