News | Threat of Brexit squeezing North’s economy

Threat of Brexit squeezing North’s economy

The threat of withdrawal from the European Union is having a real terms effect on the North’s fragile economy according to SDLP Economy Spokesperson Patsy McGlone MLA.

Mr McGlone, a former chair of the Stormont Enterprise Committee, has encouraged local businesses to make the case for defending our position in Europe which grants access to 500 million consumers in the single market.

He said:

“Today’s updated economic forecasts from Danske Bank paint a very real and very worrying picture about the squeeze that the local economy is experiencing as a result of the threat of Brexit. Our fragile economy has suffered a number of setbacks over the last number of years, particularly in the manufacturing sector where we’ve seen severe job losses at Bombardier, JTI Gallaghers and Michelin.

“The revised growth forecasts clearly show that as uncertainty about our future within Europe grows, our economic expansion slows. Coupled with disinvestment in higher education as well as poor regional road and rail infrastructure, this is a recipe for economic disaster.

“The SDLP has led the campaign to defend our position in Europe. While others have been luke warm toward, or outright opposed our continued membership of the EU, we have always been strongly pro-Europe. The benefits to local businesses are clear – access to a single market of over 500 million consumers free from trade tariffs is something that we should jealously protect. It offers an unparalleled opportunity to promote our local goods and services across national borders to a broad base market.

“Only last year the Assembly Enterprise Committee commissioned research from economist Dr Leslie Budd which concluded that transaction costs for cross border trade would rise significantly if we were to leave Europe and would pose a major disincentive for inward investment. All of the research points to negative economic consequences if we’re forced out of Europe.

“I still have not heard a single convincing alternative from the ideological isolationists who want to retreat from the European project. The loose talk about trade agreements, which may be just as costly as EU membership but without the democratic imperative that membership offers, is the language of snake-oil salesmen.

“I am confident that people in the North understand the benefits of Europe and will vote to remain. It’s important that we are not casual about this campaign however. I would encourage business leaders, community leaders and all those interested in creating prosperous communities to join our campaign and defend our relationship with Europe.”

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