Cliff edge Brexit ‘a disaster for retailers and consumers’

Northern Ireland retailers and households need swift reassurance that they are not facing a “perfect storm” as Brexit develops, industry spokesman Aodhan Connolly has claimed.

Commenting on the Exiting the EU Select Committee inquiry on the progress of the UK’s negotiations and the proposed arrangements for the Northern Ireland backstop, the director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said there was a need for rapid progress towards a deal and a transition period.

NIRC director Aodhan Connolly

NIRC director Aodhan Connolly

“Businesses still can’t plan effectively and have real fears that shoppers will be badly affected by the inevitable delays from a no deal Brexit,” he said.

“Brexit could be a perfect storm for Northern Ireland shoppers.

“We already have half the discretionary income of GB households, we already pay more for essentials such as fuel, we are the only part of the UK with a land border and we don’t have a government to advise our businesses on how to prepare.”

EU and UK negotiating teams must, he said, deliver a Withdrawal Agreement in the coming weeks to avoid the “severe consequences that would result from a cliff edge scenario next March”.

“Quite simply, shoppers in Northern Ireland cannot afford to absorb the cost rises of a no deal Brexit. The cumulative burden could be devastating,” he said.