The policy manager for the Freight Transport Association of Northern Ireland has warned that a no deal Brexit is a “Withdrawal Agreement 2.0” which could mean a border in the Irish Sea as well as a hard border between the Republic and the North.
Seamus Leheny told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland that it has been difficult for companies in the North to plan for Brexit “because they don’t know what’s happening.
That’s the problem, the lack of clarity, the fact that everything is up in the air.
He said it was the ultimate irony that a no deal exit could come about because of fears re the backstop.
The Government’s no deal contingency plans did not ease the fears of businesses who feared an “unlevel” play field.
A no deal Brexit is ten times worse than the withdrawal agreement, added Mr Leheny.
Trade in Northern Ireland is reliant on supply chains, he explained. Seventy per cent of products from the Republic are ingredients/components and are in the high volume/low value category.
Northern Ireland exports to the UK are made up from ingredients/components from the Republic so if there are regulatory controls or tariffs that will have a major impact, he warned.
It will make business economically unviable, claimed Mr Leheny.
Contingency planning involving moving some elements of their business to the Republic would cost a lot of money and people are not making decisions because they don’t know what’s happening.
Any plans to allow Northern Ireland be used as “a back door” to the UK will not last long because the WTO will eventually take legal action and England “will get fed up” with Northern Ireland being used as a back door, he said.