Belfast Telegraph

Theresa May's successor cannot afford to allow no-deal, says Northern Ireland business

By Lisa Smyth

Business leaders in Northern Ireland have warned that Theresa May's successor must not allow a no-deal Brexit to happen.

They have paid tribute to the outgoing prime minister for her willingness to consider the special circumstances facing Northern Ireland as she hammered out a deal for the UK's exit from Europe.

Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said it is essential her replacement continues to represent the people of Northern Ireland.

"Theresa May has to be lauded for listening to Northern Ireland business perhaps more than any prime minister before her and that is evident in the special consideration given to Northern Ireland in the Withdrawal Agreement," he said.

"Her efforts continue to be deeply appreciated and it is a great pity that she could not deliver the Withdrawal Bill through Parliament.

"To her successor, our message remains the same. Business here needs unfettered access to both the EU market and the UK market to thrive and survive. Quite simply, we need a deal. It is time to put economics before ideology and people before politics."

Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said politicians at Westminster must ensure that a new Conservative leader is appointed as quickly as possible.

"Westminster has already squandered far too much time going around in circles on Brexit," she said. "Regardless of who is in Downing Street, a new prime minister must work to avert a messy and disorderly exit from the EU and provide firms with stability and answers.

"They will expect practical solutions to a number of issues that are still unclear, ranging from trade agreements to migration rules and customs."

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said: "Theresa May was very determined, focused and willing to do what she, and we, believed was right for Northern Ireland.

He said it is important to remember that while the person leading negotiations will change, the problems they face will remain and it is the responsibility of business leaders in Northern Ireland to ensure the new prime minister achieves the best possible deal for Northern Ireland in the coming months.

FSB (NI) Policy Chair Tina McKenzie said: "With the next Brexit deadline approaching on October 31, we hope that the process to find a new prime minister is as efficient as possible, so whoever comes next can quickly get down to the business of finding agreement, and we avoid crashing out without a deal.

"It is vital that all parties work pragmatically in the weeks and months ahead to end the ongoing uncertainty for small businesses, and to ensure that frictionless trade can continue."

Belfast Telegraph

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