Belfast Telegraph

Dodds claims DUP's on the side of businesses in Northern Ireland

Diane Dodds and Arlene Foster with Michel Barnier last year
Diane Dodds and Arlene Foster with Michel Barnier last year
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

DUP MEP Diane Dodds has rejected any notion that her party is not on the side of Northern Ireland businesses.

The DUP's firm rejection of the backstop provision in Theresa May's withdrawal text remains at odds with the majority view within Northern Ireland's business community.

A poll of members by Manufacturing NI in December showed 93% endorsing the agreement.

Business bodies have continued to be outspoken over the potential impact of a no-deal scenario on the economy, with Danske Bank chief executive, Kevin Kingston, recently describing a no-deal Brexit as the biggest risk to the Northern Ireland economy in a generation.

Meanwhile, DUP MP Sammy Wilson argued this week that the Prime Minister's deal would be worse than no deal.

But speaking in Strasbourg yesterday, Ms Dodds said: "I don't believe we're not on businesses' side. We want Northern Ireland's economy to grow and we want to grow jobs and employment opportunities for our young people."

She said the party is disappointed with the way the withdrawal agreement is being presented and negotiated by the Government.

"Flexibility on the European Union side, negotiating some of the finer points, could help enormously," she said.

Ms Dodds also described the proposed £30,000 salary threshold for skilled workers moving to the UK after Brexit - contained in a report by the Migration Advisory Committee - as "ludicrous for Northern Ireland quite frankly". "In Northern Ireland, even some highly-skilled people are not earning £30,000, so it's way too high."

The DUP MEP added that any future harmonisation of taxes across the EU would likely prevent Northern Ireland reducing its corporation tax rate, if it remains in the Single Market.

It comes as a Department for the Economy report concluded this week that dropping corporation tax to 12.5% would more than recompense for any economic impact from Brexit.

The report found a backstop scenario for Northern Ireland, i.e. keeping it within the Single Market, with the rest of the UK outside, would represent the best case advantage for attracting foreign direct investment.

Meanwhile, UUP MEP Jim Nicholson said while he understands the fears of businesses and farmers in Northern Ireland, he doesn't agree with them on the withdrawal agreement.

The European Parliament veteran, who backed Remain during the 2016 referendum, repeated his opposition to the backstop. "People have to look after what's in their best interests. We, as politicians, not only have to look after their best interests, we also have to look after our responsibility to keep the union together.

"I can understand where they come from. I heard many of their concerns before the referendum.

"Those concerns haven't changed after the referendum. As we sit now, some of them, with the greatest respect, did react to a lot of pressure from Government and probably encouragement from Government. But that's their business and they have to represent their people the best they can. I can understand it, but can't agree with it."

Belfast Telegraph

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