Belfast Telegraph

Home Business Brexit

Warning Northern Ireland 'sleepwalking into havoc of no-deal'

IoD chairman says MPs have abandoned duties to public

By Margaret Canning

MPs have abandoned their duties to the public by failing to find an agreement for the UK's departure from the EU with just 49 days to go until Brexit, according to a business leader.

Weekly Business Digest Newsletter

This week's business news headlines, directly to your inbox every Tuesday.

Gordon Milligan, the chairman of the Institute of Directors, who is also chief human resources and corporate services officer at Translink, said politicians risked allowing Northern Ireland to "sleepwalk into a no-deal Brexit" by running down the clock on negotiations.

Mr Milligan addressed around 400 business leaders at the IoD's annual dinner at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast last night.

The event also heard an address from former Dyson chief executive Martin McCourt, now chairman of radiator manufacturer Glen Dimplex.

During his 15 years leading Dyson, Mr McCourt, who has also held senior positions at firms such as Mars, Duracell and Toshiba, helped the company reach revenue of £1bn for the first time.

But last month Dyson was in the eye of a storm after founder Sir James Dyson, a supporter of Brexit, announced he would be shifting the vacuum cleaner and gadget manufacturer's headquarters to Singapore.

Speaking last night as the Brexit deadline looms ever closer, Mr Milligan said MPs had shown a "dereliction of duty" by failing to find agreement.

Mr Milligan said: "If we tumble over the cliff edge without a parachute, a no-deal Brexit is about a lot more than trade.

"It would see many legal obligations and definitions lapse immediately while also throwing in doubt the status of EU citizens in UK and UK citizens in EU.

"A no-deal Brexit has the potential to severely impact people's lives and would represent a serious dereliction of duty.

"We must end the Brexit brinkmanship and immediately find a way to secure a comprehensive future relationship with the EU.

"It will be unforgivable if the politicians in Westminster unleash the havoc that results in us sleepwalking into a no-deal Brexit by playing down the clock like a game of countdown."

Mr Milligan also called for renewed efforts to restore the Executive.

He said: "If the aim of government is to mothball Stormont, it has been successful.

"It has been well publicised that the political vacuum has resulted in a logjam of more than £2bn of infrastructure projects.

"For those of us in the business community, focused on creating jobs and wealth for the good of everyone, we are just getting on with the task at hand."

Mr Milligan added: "Countless projects including the North South Interconnector and the new Belfast Transport Hub remain in limbo.

"A long-term solution must be found to allow these economically significant projects to progress, and fast.

"In the meantime, business leaders will continue to roll up their sleeves and get on with the job."

Belfast Telegraph