SF anger as report suggests 12% GDP hit

Sinn Fein has hit out at the government after official estimates suggested Northern Ireland could suffer a 12% loss of GDP if no deal is struck on Brexit.

The forecasts, seen by MPs, model the 15-year impact of the UK staying in the single market, doing a trade deal with the EU or leaving without a deal.

They suggest the north-west and south-west of England would see the biggest slowdown in growth.

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The estimate is that Northern Ireland could suffer a 2.5% loss from staying in the single market, an 8% loss from doing a trade deal with the EU or a 12% loss in the event of no deal.

The government says the studies do not cover all outcomes.

Brexit-backing Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg accused Treasury officials of “fiddling the figures” to make all options but staying in the EU look bad.

But Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard said: “This staggering British government leak confirms what many across society have been saying since, and before the Brexit vote – dragging the north from the EU has the potential to devastate our local economy. The potential of a 12% downturn in the northern economy comes following a decade of Tory policy designed to starve our economy of resources.”

The impact on the public and private sector will be profound, he added.