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Northern Ireland firms moving jobs to Republic due to Brexit, MP told

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Extension call: Claire Hanna

Extension call: Claire Hanna

Extension call: Claire Hanna

A former Northern Ireland Secretary has warned that companies here are moving jobs to the Republic because of Brexit.

Julian Smith also urged Cabinet Office Minister Penny Mordaunt "to look at the fact that many businesses have not realised the consequences of coming out of the single market and the customs union. We can start preparing them for that reality".

He added: "On the Northern Ireland protocol, there are businesses reporting to me that they are now moving jobs to the Republic."

South Belfast SDLP MP Claire Hanna drew Ms Mordaunt's attention to last week's Assembly vote calling for an extension to the Brexit transition period.

She said: "The Government insisted that the Northern Ireland Assembly should have the final say on the protocol.

"The Assembly finally gave a say on Brexit when it voted last week to request an extension to the transition period to allow businesses, which are currently in the fight of their lives due to Covid, to adapt and to have the certainty that the minister refers to.

"If the Northern Ireland Assembly's consent is so vital, should the Government not listen to what it says?"

Ms Mordaunt said that although the Assembly would determine whether the terms of the protocol remain in force in a few years' time, the Government would not be extending the transition period.

She added that trade talks with Brussels are at a "key stage" and need to be escalated in the coming weeks.

She repeatedly ruled out extending the transition period beyond December this year and pressed the need for the UK to be treated as a "sovereign equal".

Mr Smith said many businesses haven't realised the consequences of coming out of the single market and customs union.

"We can start preparing them for that reality," he added.

Ms Mordaunt replied: "We are already in discussions with businesses in every part of the UK."

Belfast Telegraph