Northern Ireland business voice 'must be heard in Brexit negotiations'
Northern Ireland's three newly elected MEPs carry the responsibility of sending the message to London and Brussels that a no-deal Brexit is not wanted by Northern Ireland firms, a business leader says.
Seamus Leheny of the Freight Transport Association, has been among the business representatives lobbying in Stormont and Westminster on behalf of companies here. Reacting to Monday's European election result, which returned two MEPs in favour of the backstop, he said it's essential that the voices of everyone from small rural family businesses in NI to large exporters here are heard at negotiation tables.
"Now we know the results, our three successful candidates carry the responsibility that the message that no-deal Brexit is not wanted in NI is heard loud and clear at negotiating tables in London and Brussels. Our concerns now switch to the leadership contest of the Conservative party as this will have serious implications in the future direction of Brexit and Northern Ireland. Whoever is elected as the new Prime Minister, we will endeavour to engage with them and their cabinet right from the start in outlining the concerns and requests of the NI business sector."
Also speaking yesterday, Tina McKenzie of NI's largest business body, the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Clearly the election results across the UK indicate that there are differing views on Brexit and how to move forward. It is incumbent on political leaders to find consensus, and do so with a degree of urgency, to provide some certainty for small businesses and above all ensure that, if we are to leave the EU, we withdraw in a managed and orderly way.
The FSB chair added: "We need devolved government restored as a high priority so that much-needed decisions can start to be taken to help drive the local economy forward, improve public services and have input to the Brexit process."