Vote shows Northern Ireland doesn't want no-deal Brexit, says businesses
Two Remain MEPs returned while UK polarised on issue
Business leaders in Northern Ireland have argued that the outcome of the European elections illustrates there is no majority for a no-deal Brexit in UK politics.
Despite Nigel Farage's Brexit Party taking almost one-third of the UK vote, parties which stood on a Remain manifesto performed strongly in Thursday's poll, taking a 41.5% share.
Naomi Long's success represented a historic win for the Alliance Party, returning two pro-Remain MEPs in Northern Ireland. It's the first time two unionists will not represent Northern Ireland in Brussels. The success of the Liberal Democrats and Brexit Party in Britain came at the expense of the Conservatives and the Labour party, who managed only 13 seats between them.
Reacting to yesterdays result, the director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, Aodhan Connolly, said: “There is a clear polarisation in politics in the UK and while the Brexit Party has made much ground it must be remembered that this election also shows, thankfully, that there is no majority for a no-deal Brexit.
“Leaving the EU without a deal will mean the fundamental disintegration of our supply chains, delays, tariffs and non-tariff barriers that will squeeze our Northern Ireland households and be a breaking point for some of our Northern Irish businesses.”
He continued: “But let’s be clear, this will create hardship for Nigel Farage’s constituency too. A no-deal is bad news for the whole of the UK.”
Chief executive of Manufacturing Northern Ireland Stephen Kelly said yesterday that all the European Parliamentary election has confirmed is that the UK remains deeply divided.
“There are some who want Brexit at any cost, some who want no Brexit and some in the middle who are happy to leave, but it must be with a deal,” he said.
“What that does mean though, is there is no majority for a no-deal exit. So if Parliament is to decide that the UK is to exit the EU, then it must settle on a deal that protects jobs and investment.
“Until then, the uncertainty and the instability continues.”
Pro-Remain parties won a 57.1% share of the NI vote yesterday, slightly higher than the 56% who voted to Remain in the 2016 referendum. The DUP’s Diane Dodds and Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson both retained their seats.