Wilson: Irish reunification report ‘no more compelling than Grimm’s Fairy Tales’

Sammy Wilson has dismissed as “fairy tale nonsense” a new report which suggested the “only winning scenario” for Northern Ireland following Brexit is a united Ireland.

‘The Costs of Non-Unification - Brexit and the Unification of Ireland’ report forecasts that both NI and the Irish Republic will suffer economically after the UK leaves the EU.

Dr Kurt Hubner at the launch of the Costs of Non-Unification - Brexit and the Unification of Ireland report at Europa Hotel in Belfast.

Dr Kurt Hubner at the launch of the Costs of Non-Unification - Brexit and the Unification of Ireland report at Europa Hotel in Belfast.

The report examined three potential scenarios: a hard Brexit, in which all of the UK leaves the single market and the customs union, NI remaining within the single market and customs union, and the unification of Ireland.

It found that a hard Brexit would reduce Northern Ireland’s GDP by 10.1 billion euro (£8.8 billion) from 2021-25.

Northern Ireland remaining within the single market and customs union would result in a GDP dip of 3.8 billion euro (£3.3 billion), it said.

However, the report found that a united Ireland would see Northern Ireland increase its GDP.

“The only winning scenario is the case of unification where between 2018 and 2025, Northern Ireland would increase its GDP by 17.9 billion euro,” it found.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said the report, produced by Canadian firm KLC Consultants for US-based Irish American organisation KRB Inc, contained “compelling evidence that could not be ignored”.

But former finance minister Mr Wilson rubbished the suggestions, telling the News Letter: “It is no more compelling than Grimm’s Fairy Tales”.

Labelling the report a “political pamphlet”, the DUP MP claimed the authors were “clearly biased”, adding: “When you see the term Irish American attached to anything, think Sinn Fein.”

The East Antrim MP also asserted that the long term predictions outlined in the report are “nonsensical”, stating: “Any economic assessment where there are so many unknowns usually turn out to contain no substance.

“We have already seen that with Treasury reports into Brexit. According to those, at present we should have another 800,000 people unemployed in the UK, interest rates going through the roof, house prices going through the floor, and GDP having fallen as a result of the referendum result.

“None of that has happened, and that was all based on economic modelling. So it shows you shouldn’t give any credence to these sorts of models.”

Mr Wilson said the report also contained a “glaring contradiction”, adding: “The authors say that under a united Ireland our GDP would receive a massive boost. But we would then be in the single market and customs union. They can’t have it both ways.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Steve Aiken, who was among those who attended the launch at the Europa Hotel in Belfast on Wednesday, said he was sceptical about the report.

“A figure they say of about 10 billion euro over the space of a decade is absolutely minuscule and is well within the margin for error,” he said.

“I can only presume when they continue to put data into the model, they will suddenly realise something we have known all along - that unification is not an answer and would be a net detriment to Northern Ireland.”

Presenting the report, one of the authors, Dr Kurt Hubner said the Brexit referendum has created enormous economic change.

He added: “We already have huge opportunity costs and now with the way we tried to develop those scenarios, it is surprising that the unification one is the only one that would produce positive effects.

“Whereas with a hard Brexit the losses are already piling up.”