Thursday 17 January 2019

'Keeping an open Border is crucial' - lobby group

CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn Picture: Getty
CBI Director General Carolyn Fairbairn Picture: Getty

Colm Kelpie

The importance of keeping an open Border post-Brexit cannot be overstated, the head of Britain's biggest business lobby group has said.

Carolyn Fairbairn, the director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said borders of any description, cannot be tolerated.

Ms Fairbairn told the CBI Northern Ireland Annual Lunch that there can be no barriers or delays as a result of Brexit.

"With over £3bn (€3.4bn) of goods and services exported from Northern Ireland to the Republic each year, the importance of keeping an open, frictionless Border between Ireland and Northern Ireland cannot be overstated," Ms Fairbairn said. "It's also fundamental that the £13bn (€14.6bn)-worth of sales from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK are allowed to flow freely."

Ms Fairbairn said there was political deadlock not only in Stormont, but in Westminster and Brussels also.

She said the fact there was no executive up and running was being felt acutely across Northern Ireland's business community.

"On Brexit - the people of Northern Ireland need a voice. Politicians need to be back in Stormont making sure the voice of business and prosperity is heard," she said.

"Those outstanding issues which have led to the collapse of the local executive need to be resolved by political representatives as soon as possible."

She also said businesses needed to hold the UK government to securing a transition deal with access to the single market and the customs union, and to build the will to achieve it across the EU.

"Back in March, CBI president Paul Drechsler warned of the 'Pandora's box' of economic consequences which would come from 'no deal'. And in July, I gave a lecture on Brexit at the London School of Economics, arguing that - during a transition period - the UK should stay in the single market and a customs union. At the time, that was quite revolutionary. But last month - that's basically what the prime minister agreed to."

Irish Independent

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