The North’s business leaders have stepped up their pressure on the DUP for the party to drop its plan to vote down the Brexit transition deal UK Prime Minister Theresa May struck with the EU.
In a forthright message, Ellvena Graham, president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said it was up to the politicians who opposed Ms May’s deal to come up with better ideas.
“For those that are not in support of the draft agreement, it is now time to outline your alternative proposals,” she told an annual gathering in Belfast. She said that the deal was better for business, shoppers, the economy, and for politics in the North than contemplating a no deal in March.
Two weeks ago, in an unusual unity of support, most business groups across Ireland, including the Ulster Farmers’ Union and Ibec, called for people to rally support for Ms May’s withdrawal deal. Separately, the chief of jet maker Bombardier the North’s largest manufacturer backed the Brexit plan. Michael Ryan, the head of its Belfast plane plant, said the so-called backstop laid out in the deal is a workable arrangement that he could live with if necessary, and infinitely preferable to a no-deal split.
The Bombardier plant imports 25% of its components from Britain and 40% from the EU. It employs almost 4,000 people and accounts for about 10% of the North’s manufacturing exports. “It would not be difficult at a Northern Ireland business level,” the executive said. “That’s not to understate the sovereignty concerns. But speaking as a businessman and someone who wants to continue to run a business here, it’s the least burdensome option.”
Additional reporting Bloomberg