Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Disturbing analysis from Government on a no-deal Brexit

Editor's Viewpoint

Even the most reckless Brexiteers knew in their hearts that leaving the EU would have an economic impact on the UK. Jacob Rees-Mogg at one stage said that it might take 50 years for the full benefit of the divorce to be apparent.

The Government analysis of the impact of leaving published yesterday makes depressing reading and especially for us in Northern Ireland.

In essence it said that even the withdrawal plan proposed by the Prime Minister, and which most commentators predict will not get passed in the House of Commons next month, will result in the UK's GDP being cut over the next 15 years.

And, as even the most ardent critics of the Prime Minister accept, a no-deal exit from Europe would be disastrous resulting in a 9.3% hit on GDP.

Of course there will be those who will argue that economic forecasts are not exact sciences and that these predictions could be wildly inaccurate or made meaningless by global expansion or retraction.

However they are the only economic indicators that we have and there is every reason to believe that Northern Ireland will be one of the hardest hit regions under a no-deal Brexit.

While those who support Brexit - including the DUP - argue that it will open up global opportunities for UK trade deals that ignores the fact that Northern Ireland's private sector economy is built overwhelmingly on SMEs and a few global companies. SMEs have only limited abilities to become world-wide exporters.

And as we saw with the recent announcement of nearly 500 job losses at Bombardier, the decisions on how global companies perform are taken far from these shores and not always to our benefit.

However it has to be accepted that there was a democratic vote in the UK to leave the EU and nothing has changed on that front. Northern Ireland voted to remain but has to abide by the majority decision.

Given the information now available to us, it is time to stop coming up with impossible wish-lists and attempt to secure the best possible deal for the province. The toxic debate between the DUP and the other political parties in Northern Ireland has not produced any positive results, and while the Prime Minister's proposed deal is imperfect, there may be opportunities to mitigate the worst effects of Brexit through it - provided a positive argument can be put forward by the parties here.

And there is another vital issue which needs to be addressed, as the Secretary of State Karen Bradley writes in this newspaper today.

Security co-operation between the PSNI and the Gardai as well as with other EU forces and intelligence agencies is imperative in an era where criminality and terrorism have global links.

As the Secretary of State points out, any impediments to security co-operation including extradition treaties will curtail the PSNI's ability to counter the threats to the province and could create a back door into and out of the province for those who would wish us harm.

No one knows what the final outcome of the Brexit negotiations will be but there must be a hope that at that time there will be a determined effort to restore devolution to Northern Ireland. Under any realistic outcome we will need clear and cohesive political will to make the best of the hand dealt to us.

Such an outcome seems remote and in the festive season we may have to write a appeal to Santa to get our politicians back to the work for which they were elected.

Belfast Telegraph

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