Belfast Telegraph

Brexit delay 'puts off 'economic crisis, but way forward needed'

Angela McGowan
Angela McGowan

By Margaret Canning and PA

An extension postponing the UK's exit from the EU until October has helped avert "imminent economic crisis", a business group has said.

The extension to Article 50 agreed by Prime Minister Theresa May with fellow EU leaders this week removed the threat of a no-deal Brexit today, but did not completely remove it as a potential outcome.

Angela McGowan, director of the CBI in Northern Ireland, said the time between now and October required "political compromise and a fresh approach".

She said local businesses would now be adjusting their plans for a no-deal Brexit, not cancelling them.

"The impact that Brexit uncertainty is having on business investment is clear. In the coming months rebuilding confidence and boosting investment will be critical to support the all-island economy," she said.

"No-deal brings unnecessary risk to the Good Friday Agreement, which has been the foundation of social, economic and political progress. Cross-party collaboration must happen now to end the crisis."

Aodhan Connolly, director of the NI Retail Consortium, also welcomed the extension but said the pressure was far from off.

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"While we understand the high level of Brexit fatigue, politicians must use the time given to break the political impasse in Parliament," he said.

"It would be pure negligence by our elected representatives if we find ourselves once again teetering on the edge of a no-deal Brexit in six months."

But others voiced fears that the Brexit deadline extension would create even more uncertainty for companies.

The Federation of Small Businesses in the UK said its members were being "driven to despair".

Chairman Mike Cherry said: "We have seen some cross-party engagement in recent days to try and end the stalemate. There should be no let-up in attempts to deliver the circuit breaker needed to secure a solution to this crisis.

"Extensions do avoid a cliff-edge in the short term, and dodging the economic harm of no-deal at 11pm today will be a huge relief for many small businesses.

"What is a problem, however, is that these extensions provide no comfort that there will be an end to the debating, dithering and delay."

Belfast Telegraph