Belfast Telegraph

General Election call poses 'significant challenge' for Northern Ireland investment and growth

By John Mulgrew

Northern Ireland businesses say they are concerned that attention will be shifted away from Brexit negotiations and pose a "significant challenge" to the Stormont talks, after the Prime Minister called for a fresh General Election.

Theresa May has set a date of June 8 for the election - while the impasse at Stormont remains ongoing.

And industry leaders say that while our own crisis continues, another election "creates more uncertainty in a period where we need stability for those who are making investment decisions, planning for a post-Brexit world and securing jobs".

That's according to Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI.

And Ann McGregor, chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that "many businesses will understandably be concerned that attention will inevitably shift from the economy and the complexity of leaving the EU to a potential election campaign".

"Our members will want to be reassured that the key challenges facing the economy will be front and centre throughout any election period," she said.

"We must however remember that it is businesses that actually trade, not governments.

"And it will be businesses' ability to respond to forthcoming Brexit challenges - identifying and solving problems; building new relationships to enable them to reduce the impact and seize new opportunities - that will shape our future relationship with both the EU and the rest of the world."

Mr Kelly said: "It might be good news for our printer members, but it's unclear that a snap General Election will do anything to calm choppy political waters at home.

"We are in the middle of a political crisis and an election for Westminster and potentially for Stormont." Retail NI chief executive, Glyn Roberts, said that the timing of this General Election "poses a significant challenge to the current talks on restoring devolution".

"Political stability is the essential basis for economic growth," he said.

"The focus of this election should be on policy and what type of Brexit is best for Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole."

A CBI Northern Ireland spokesperson said: "It is now vital the General Election does not slow down efforts to form a strong, well-functioning, devolved government in Northern Ireland.

"Political stability and economic prosperity go hand in hand, so businesses want clarity from the Government on how the General Election will impact the prospects for a swift resolution to the current political and budgetary situation at Stormont."

Meanwhile, Carolyn Fairbairn, CBI director-general, said: "With a snap General Election now called, businesses will be looking to each political party to set out their plans to support economic stability and prosperity over the next Parliament in a way that is fair and sustainable for communities across the UK."

Belfast Telegraph

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