Belfast Telegraph

Government to publish no-deal border plans amid warnings from business leaders in Northern Ireland

The Government is expected to publish plan for the border in a no-deal scenario (Niall Carson/PA)
The Government is expected to publish plan for the border in a no-deal scenario (Niall Carson/PA)

As the Government prepares to publish plans for the Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit, business leaders across Northern Ireland have issued stark warnings about such a scenario.

Following Theresa May's resounding Commons defeat, MPs will next vote on whether to support or reject a no-deal exit from the EU.

The Prime Minister said the Government will publish a no-deal tariff schedule and plans for the border on Wednesday morning.

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, said leaving the EU without a deal would be "disastrous" for the Northern Ireland retail sector and urged the Prime Minister to reach out to opposition parties.

"A extension to Article 50 needs to happen to allow time for meaningful talks between the Government and the opposition parties,” he added.

"The House of Commons needs to state very clearly that a no deal is off the agenda. Crashing out of the EU without a deal would be disastrous for our retail sector, causing delays in the supply chain, food shortages and potential higher prices for consumers."

Roger Pollen, head of external affairs at the Federation of Small Businesses Northern Ireland, said firms need certainty for the future.

"Regardless of the ever changing circumstances which Brexit brings, it is clear that an Assembly and Executive would have a key role during the transition period to decide whether the backstop would need to be introduced, or in the event of a no-deal scenario for purposes of emergency decision making," he said.

"Unfortunately, the devolved institutions continue to be missing in action, with no talks process ongoing to restore them.

"For small businesses, they just want to know what economic environment they will face after March 29."

A cliff-edge Brexit is in no one’s interest, so despite tonight’s setback an agreement must be reached to avoid it. Roger Pollen, FSB

Ann McGregor, head of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said businesses are not ready for a no-deal scenario and it must not be allowed to happen "by default".

"The implications for Northern Ireland are starkly portrayed in a recent British Chambers of Commerce and NI Chamber Brexit survey where two in five NI firms said that in the event of a no-deal they would plan to move all or some of their business to the EU," she said.

"Against this backdrop, it is critical that government and parliament pull out all the stops to avoid a no-deal scenario and the messy and disorderly exit that it will bring."

In a joint statement, UK farming unions said it is time for MPs to consider concessions required to support a deal.

"It is critical that the Government and MPs identify a clear strategy to secure Parliament’s support for a negotiated Brexit deal between the UK and the EU and use any extension of Article 50 constructively. We cannot simply delay the prospect of no-deal," they said.

"This continued uncertainty is having real world consequences on farming businesses – and wider British industry – already. 

"It is time for MPs to consider the concessions they will need to accommodate to support a deal that finally brings to an end the enormous and damaging uncertainty that is already undermining our food and farming sectors."

If MPs vote to reject a no-deal Brexit on Wednesday, another vote will be held on Thursday on whether to extend the Article 50 negotiation process beyond the March 29 deadline.

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