Cllr Liam Mackle
Sinn Féin Cllr Liam Mackle says it’s time for the DUP to take responsibility for the hard Brexit they have created and instead take advantage of the opportunities created by the Protocol.
Councillor Mackle Said:
“The DUP leader has been claiming in recent days that the Protocol costs businesses £850m per year. This is based on a claim made in a recent article in the Newsletter by Esmond Birnie.
“It’s quite a claim but, unfortunately for Mr Birnie, even a rudimentary analysis of his figures shows it to be about as credible as the £350m on the side of Boris’s bus.
“For example, of all the thousands of business which import goods from Britain to the North, Mr Birnie cites just four when calculating his £850m figure. Based on various assumptions, Mr Birnie estimates that these four businesses have experienced an average 6% increase in costs. He then inexplicably applies this 6% cost to all trade from Britain to the north, valued at £10bn, which comes to £600m. For good measure, Mr Birnie then adds £250m for the government’s annual spending in implementing the Protocol, finally coming down on his total of £850m.
“Clearly, there are numerous, very serious flaws in this methodology.
“It is simply not possible to draw credible conclusions on the entire economy based on assumptions about just four companies.
“Mr Birnie also does not account for the ability of firms to shift their supply chains to the north, across Ireland and other parts of the EU. There is plenty of evidence of this happening, not only reducing costs, but also creating more trade locally.
“An examination of such benefits alongside the costs is central to any serious appraisal. Yet Mr Birnie does not factor in the unique benefit to companies here of being able to freely export goods to the British and European markets. This is widely recognised as a game-changer for attracting Foreign Direct Investment and building a stronger export base.
“Any serious assessment of the Protocol would also compare it against the alternative (in technical terms the counterfactual). Britain’s Brexit also carries costs, not least barriers to trade with the EU, but Mr Birnie ignores these.
“He also claims that the £250m in public sector costs could otherwise ‘be spent on health, education etc’. In fact, any money received by the Executive for administering the Protocol is ring-fenced for that purpose and cannot be redirected to other public services.
“The truth is that Brexit was always going to create additional costs. Unionist spokespeople publicly stated that they were prepared to accept any economic damage, including a loss of thousands of jobs, as long as they left the EU.
“There is no good Brexit but the Protocol has protected the all-Ireland economy and given local exporters a foot in both British and EU markets.
“The DUP pushed for a hard Brexit against the wishes and the interests of the people here. It’s time for them to take responsibility for the situation they have created and take advantage of the opportunities created by the Protocol.”