Claims that a no-deal Brexit could put at least 40,000 jobs in Northern Ireland at risk have been dismissed as “scaremongering” by a DUP MP.
A report published by the Department for the Economy on Wednesday warned that if the United Kingdom was to leave the European Union without a deal, this would have a “profound and long-lasting impact on NI’s economy and society”.
The paper states that a no-deal Brexit could lead to a “sharp increase in unemployment, with at least 40,000 jobs at risk, based on EU export exposure”.
It also finds that scenario would have “immediate and severe consequences” for the Province’s competitiveness both in the UK and in terms of the all-island economy.
Responding to the findings, DUP Brexit spokesman Sammy Wilson said the report was “inconclusive, full of holes and was written with a particular agenda in place”.
He told the News Letter: “It uses words such as ‘could’, ‘at risk’ and ‘possible’. And it only looks at one aspect; the impact of NI’s trade with the EU, particularly the Irish Republic.
“What it doesn’t do is look at the impact on the NI economy if we accepted the backstop, and how many jobs would be at risk if we were cut off from our main market in GB.
“It doesn’t consider the opportunities available to NI firms in doing trade deals with the US and other countries.
“Also, while it talks about the impact on north-south trade, it doesn’t look at the far greater impact of the disruption to east-west trade that would result from this deal.
“The very fact that it leaves such huge gaps is an indication that it is a report which is not designed to be objective in any way.
“It is alarmist and amounts to scaremongering.”
On Wednesday, DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson accepted that a no-deal Brexit could hit Northern Ireland’s economy in the short term.
”We’re talking to the government about how we can mitigate any such impact in the short term and that is what we want to do,” he said, adding that his party was not advocating a no-deal Brexit.
Sinn Fein MLA Caoimhe Archibald said: “It’s absolute nonsense for the DUP to suggest they are doing all they can to prevent a no-deal Brexit when they are the very party whose illogical opposition to the backstop and withdrawal agreement has driven us to this point.”