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Top Northern Ireland firms warn PM of a no-deal 'disaster'

Bombardier are among the companies to sign the letter.
Bombardier are among the companies to sign the letter.

By Christopher Woodhouse

Some of Northern Ireland's biggest firms have weighed into the Brexit debate by signing a letter calling on the government to avoid a no-deal Brexit on March 29.

Bombardier, Coca-Cola and First Trust are among the 50 firms warning Westminster of the consequences of leaving the European Union without a deal on the 560,000 private sector employees here.

The letter, organised by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), is being sent to all 650 members of the House of Commons today.

It comes after Prime Minister Theresa May pleaded for "one last push" by MPs to get her Brexit deal through parliament. On Tuesday, the Commons is due to vote for a second time on Mrs May's proposed withdrawal terms with her warning of a "moment of crisis" with the possibility of the UK never leaving if MPs vote it down.

The signatories underline what they believe could be "significant damage to our export markets, supply chains, consumer spending power" in the event of a no-deal situation.

"Although Brexit has not yet happened, the negative economic impact is already starting to bite in terms of the private sector's ability to invest," it states.

"Northern Ireland industry also notes with much regret, uncertainty around future funding for local infrastructure given the immediate loss of approximately £450 million from the European Regional Development Fund which was once earmarked for significant infrastructure projects.

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"The uncertainty linked with Brexit has additionally contributed to significant skill and labour shortages."

Other big hitters on the list include Devenish Nutrition, Fane Valley, Norbrook Laboratories and both universities.

In the letter, they lay out a grim prediction of "significant job losses", with a no-deal threatening to "stifle opportunities for the next generation across Northern Ireland".

Theresa May has appealed to EU leaders for ‘one more push’ to get a deal over the line (Christopher Furlong/PA)
Theresa May has appealed to EU leaders for ‘one more push’ to get a deal over the line (Christopher Furlong/PA)

Theresa May's hopes of a Brexit breakthrough are hanging in the balance after the EU appeared to rebuff her latest appeal for help in getting her withdrawal deal through Parliament.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said they would be "working intensively" in the coming days to resolve the impasse over the Northern Ireland backstop ahead of Tuesday's crunch vote by MPs. However, his suggestion the UK could unilaterally pull out of the planned single customs territory if it chose was dismissed by ministers as an attempt to "rerun old arguments".

The DUP said Northern Ireland would still be in the backstop, effectively drawing a "border in the Irish Sea" with the rest of the UK, something Mrs May has repeatedly ruled out.

Meanwhile, the Irish government has been told it needs to "stay strong" as Brexit looms, Sinn Fein has said.

Party president Mary Lou McDonald said the divorce should not wreck the Irish economy or the Good Friday Agreement.

Ms McDonald said: "It goes without saying that at this critical juncture, the Irish government needs to hold firm. They need to stay strong at the 11th hour, regardless of the overtures or pressure that might be applied from London. Whether there is a deal or not, the reality is that Brexit is bad for Ireland. Citizens in the North will be left behind."

 

Full list of signatories to CBI letter:

AES UK and Ireland

Allianz

Andras House Ltd

Aurora Prime Real Estate Ltd

Avondale Foods Ltd

Beyond Business Travel

Bombardier Aerospace

Canyon Europe Ltd

CBI NI

CBRE

Chartered Accountants Ulster Society

Coca-Cola Hellenic Northern Ireland Ltd

Construction Employers Federation

Creagh Concrete Products

Danske Bank

Deli Lites

Denroy Plastics

Denman International Ltd

Devenish Nutrition Ltd

Duncrue Food Processors

Eakin Healthcare Group

Etain Software

Evermore Energy

Fane Valley

First Trust Bank

Forde May Consulting Ltd

Graham Group

Greiner Packaging Ltd

Hilton Meat Products Ltd

Interfrigo Ltd

Lanyon Communications

Linden Foods

Maxol Oil

McCloskey International Ltd

Mineral Products Association NI

Mount Charles Group Ltd

Norbrook Laboratories Ltd

Northern Ireland Electricity Networks Ltd

O’Hare and McGovern Ltd

PKF-FPM

Queen’s University Belfast

Quinn Building Group

Rainbow Communications

SDC Trailers Ltd

SHS Group

T G Eakin Ltd

Thales

Thompsons

Ulster University

Viridian Group

Walter Watson

W & R Barnett Ltd

Westland Horticulture Ltd

White’s Speedicook Ltd

Wilsons Country Ltd

Yardmaster International

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