Belfast Telegraph

Brexit deal protects Northern Ireland's tech sector, says Wright

Backing agreement: Jeremy Wright
Backing agreement: Jeremy Wright
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

A senior figure in Theresa May's cabinet has called for support to the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement in order to protect Northern Ireland's tech sector.

Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright said the controversial text represents "the best deal possible" for Belfast's £875m a year tech industry, which employs around 9,000 people.

Northern Ireland's business community has largely thrown its weight behind the deal in order to avoid 'crashing out' on March 29, 2019. However, the backstop provision within the agreement, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, has left the main unionist parties strongly opposed.

With just eight days until MPs vote on the deal, Jeremy Wright warned a no-deal situation could halt the free flow of data "vital" for both the economy and security. The Government's own technical notices suggest that if the UK leaves the EU with no deal, there may not be a legal agreement in place right away on data flowing from the EU to the UK.

The Digital Secretary said three-quarters of the UK's service exports rely on data flows, with many tech-focused companies in Northern Ireland now dependent on cloud computing.

Mr Wright said the draft deal will address issues around personal data, reduce barriers to digital trade, facilitate e-commerce and enable the exchange of information.

"We have secured the best deal possible to protect our businesses and make sure our personal data is processed safely and securely.

"Businesses big and small and in every sector of the economy - from video games makers to hotel and travel companies, mail order firms to manufacturers - want certainty. We now need to back the Prime Minister and get the job done."

Belfast Telegraph