Belfast Telegraph

Manufacturing NI urges May and Corbyn to revoke Article 50 in absence of Brexit deal

A mock customs post is put up by Border Communities Against Brexit protesters on Old Belfast Road in Carrickcarnon on the northern side of the Irish border, between Newry and Dundalk.
A mock customs post is put up by Border Communities Against Brexit protesters on Old Belfast Road in Carrickcarnon on the northern side of the Irish border, between Newry and Dundalk.
Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI
Andrew Madden

By Andrew Madden

A campaign group representing Northern Ireland's manufacturing industry has co-signed an open letter to Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn calling for Article 50 to be revoked if a Brexit deal cannot be agreed in parliament.

Trade body Make UK penned the letter, which states that a no-deal exit would be "disastrous for the majority of  UK manufacturers and the livelihoods of the millions of people they employ and their families."

"Many of the families supported by our sector would undoubtedly suffer. There is already a tangible impact in the confidence of some Boards to invest in UK operations and other companies tell us that they cannot agree new contracts with European customers until the terms of trade with the EU have become clearer,"  Make UK chief executive Stephen Phipson wrote.

"As a consequence, many fear for their long term viability and the futures of their staff should we leave without a deal."

The move comes ahead of a a meeting of EU leaders on Wednesday, where they will discuss Theresa May's request for a further Brexit extension.

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, was one of the co-signatories of the letter.

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Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI

"The perfect outcome is if agreement is found in parliament this week, but no-deal really needs to be taken off the table," he said.

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"We're four days away from losing market access, we're four days away from huge amounts of costs and complexities being added to manufacturing across the UK, and we need to avoid that."

In October, Manufacturing NI was one of 21 Northern Ireland business groups to write to the Prime Minister urging his to act over severe labour shortages as a result of Brexit.

The letter stated that shrinking numbers of European workers are critically affecting the daily operations of many businesses in the region.

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