Northern Irish groups to visit Westminster to warn against no-deal Brexit

PUBLISHED: 00:00 28 January 2019 | UPDATED: 08:28 28 January 2019

Two Northern Irish people we've heard a lot from... the DUP's Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds in Westminster pictured with anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

Two Northern Irish people we've heard a lot from... the DUP's Arlene Foster and Nigel Dodds in Westminster pictured with anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Representatives from Northern Ireland's business, farming, trade union, community and voluntary sectors are travelling to Westminster to urge MPs to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

Twenty representatives will speak directly to the leaders of Labour, Liberal Democrats and the SNP in a bid to stress the need for Westminster to “unite and protect” Northern Ireland’s jobs, consumers and economy.

The group has also invited Northern Ireland’s 18 MPs to meet them.

They say the need for a Brexit deal is critical to avoid the UK crashing out of the EU in 60 days.

A spokesman said the Northern Ireland business community stands firm that a no-deal outcome would be “an unmitigated disaster” for the economy and society.

Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, said: “It is not acceptable for Parliament to continue to create uncertainty.

“This is having consequences as is apparent in our businesses and in our high streets.

“The actions of parliamentarians from across the House (of Commons) is not acceptable and I will be pleading with the leadership of the opposition parties that they need to reach across the chamber and avoid a calamitous crashing out of the EU which will have dire impact on consumers and jobs.”

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said: “While Parliament tries to make up its mind, businesses are facing real-life challenges and making decisions.

“They are fighting to maintain competitiveness and customers so they can pay wages this Friday and every Friday up to and after March 29, the day the UK wishes to leave the EU.

“Our business community, farming representatives, trade unions and voluntary sectors agree that the Withdrawal Agreement, whilst not perfect, is workable and much better than no deal, and its approval would secure the critical transition period, protect jobs and allow everyone to move to the more positive future relationship negotiations and agreement with the EU.”

Owen Reidy, assistant general secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, said: “The trade union movement represents over 200,000 workers across all areas of economic activity in Northern Ireland.

“We must have an agreement that safeguards jobs and workers rights’ and avoids a hard border in the island of Ireland, a border in the Irish Sea and a border between our islands.

“Workers cannot pay the price of Brexit.”

Seamus McAleavey, chief executive of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action, said: “NICVA and the Northern Ireland community and voluntary sector believe that a no-deal Brexit would be a disaster for Northern Ireland society, threatening our stability, prosperity and well-being, and that it is therefore vital that Parliament reaches agreement to avoid this outcome.”

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