Belfast Telegraph

Business, agriculture and unions react to proposed Brexit deal

Boris Johnson declared he had struck a ‘great new deal’ on Thursday.

(left to right) Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
(left to right) Michel Barnier, the EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By Rebecca Black, PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Thursday he had struck a “great new deal” over Brexit, shortly before heading to the key summit of EU leaders in Brussels.

But it must still be passed by Parliament, which has so far proved hostile to both Brexit and Mr Johnson.

This has been the reaction of business groups to the PM’s proposed Brexit deal.

– Federation of Small Businesses

FSB national chairman Mike Cherry said: “Many small businesses will be relieved that there now appears to be a credible pathway towards securing a deal that avoids a chaotic no-deal on October 31 and guarantees a transition period, which smaller businesses need to adapt to the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

“Of course the devil will be in the detail and we will now take time to examine the intricacies of the deal to make sure it works for all small businesses across the UK.”

– British Irish Chamber of Commerce

Director General John McGrane said: “The Chamber thanks and congratulates the negotiators on all sides for their commitment to securing an agreeable deal.

“Business strongly urges all involved to embrace this initiative without delay, to avoid the worst consequences of a no-deal outcome for jobs and prosperity.”

– Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Chief executive Ann McGregor said: “The absolute priority for businesses and the economy is still to avoid a messy and disorderly exit from the EU on October 31.

“Following these developments, businesses need a chance to analyse precisely what the terms of this agreement would mean for all aspects of their operations.

“Many will reserve judgement until they have had time to digest the detail and implications for trade, business growth, export and private sector employment.”

– Irish Farmers Association

President Joe Healy said: “If it’s ratified, it will avoid a ‘no-deal’ outcome, which would have had severe and immediate consequences for the Irish economy, and the agri sector in particular.

The deal appears to address the very deep concerns about creating a hard border on the island of Ireland. For these reasons, we would hope that this deal will be approved by the UK Parliament”.

– Londonderry Chamber of Commerce

President Brian McGrath said: “As a border region, businesses in the North West have been acutely concerned about a no-deal scenario or any deal that would impede cross-border trade.

“We are pleased to finally be moving forward but we are also cautiously optimistic as we know this deal still has to be ratified at Westminster.”

– Hospitality Ulster

Chief executive Colin Neill said: “Whilst the full details of today’s deal are still being considered, we recognise that the future economic relationship with the EU will be largely settled during the forthcoming transition period.

“We therefore give a cautious welcome to what has been agreed today. We must now move on to the next stage and secure an extensive free trade deal with the EU to protect our wider domestic economy, so that we can refocus on the challenges facing our hospitality sector such as rates, VAT and access to labour post-Brexit.”

– Irish Congress of Trade Unions

“The ICTU supported, albeit reluctantly, the previous Withdrawal Agreement as it did less harm to the island of Ireland.

“We greatly regret any form of Brexit. It seems on our initial assessment that this text is a slightly lesser version of the original Withdrawal Agreement with a new mechanism to replace the NI backstop, but that essentially will do what a backstop was intended to do, albeit with some democratic oversight from the Assembly.

“It seems to suggest that a hard border on the island of Ireland will be avoided by NI essentially operating to the EU customs union and aligned significantly with the EU single market.

“What is critical if Brexit is to occur is that we have an agreement, and whilst this agreement is a slightly different version of the original Withdrawal Agreement, it may be sufficient.”

PA

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