Belfast Telegraph

Business chiefs' fear over post-Brexit job losses

Business leaders are nervous about the impact of leaving the European Union amid fears that jobs and investment will suffer as a result of the referendum result.

Employment remains at record levels and surveys since the poll have showed business activity continuing with little change.

But confidence has been hit and unions are nervous that once Article 50 is triggered, jobs will move to other countries.

Unite has voiced particular concern following the announcement by car giant Ford that planned investment at its engine plant in Bridgend, South Wales, will be cut from £181 million to £100 million.

Tony Burke, assistant general secretary of Unite, said it was crucial for the Government to end the uncertainty, and that unions have a seat at the table of Brexit negotiations over trade and the single market.

Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, told the Press Association: "So far we've had a fairytale summer where the implications of the Brexit vote appear to have gone unnoticed with consumers and a range of indicators remaining positive.

"That is why manufacturers are nervous about the future. Investment remains weak or on-hold, with no signs of picking up and confidence about the future of the economy overall has fallen.

"There are also a number of big investment decisions which, if they go the wrong way, could start a domino effect on others with very serious consequences for supply chains.

"Government needs to be very aware of the potential damage to business confidence and ongoing uncertainty and stand ready to take decisive action where necessary."

Rain Newton-Smith, he CBI's chief economist, said it was s till early days to assess the impact, but the economy was continuing to grow at a steady pace with performance mixed across different sectors.

"Exporters have seen some competitiveness benefit from the fall in sterling, but the flip-side is higher import prices.

"Although output is holding up pretty well, business optimism and investment plans have deteriorated given the uncertainty about the UK's future in Europe.

"So as we head into autumn, businesses now want to see the Government doing all it can provide to businesses with confidence. They will therefore be watching the Government's Autumn Statement closely.

"In a way, the real effects of Brexit will become clear once negotiations are under way. Firms want to continue trading easily with our EU neighbours, take advantage of any new opportunities for trade around the world and ensure they can access global talent, while being mindful of public concerns around immigration.

"Going forward, business is committed to working closely with Government to ensure the best possible outcome from the forthcoming negotiations."