10 May 2018

Update

CBI calls for practical choices to rule out a hard border in Ireland

With ongoing Cabinet debates on UK’s future customs arrangements with the EU after Brexit, the CBI has called on the UK Government to take a hard border in Northern Ireland off the negotiating table once and for all.

CBI calls for practical choices to rule out a hard border in Ireland

Speaking at the CBI’s Northern Ireland Annual Dinner, CBI Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn, urged negotiators not to throw away a generation of progress in Northern Ireland on the back of Brexit.

In her keynote address, Carolyn emphasised how much is at stake in the negotiations. In the 20 years since the Good Friday Agreement when the border barriers were taken down, Northern Irish businesses have helped create over 160,000 extra jobs, Irish product exports have risen at an average of 6 per cent a year, year on year, for 20 years, and companies in Northern Ireland generate £70 billion a year in sales. But the Agreement does so much more than this. It secures peace, human and civil rights for communities that were scarred by violence for many years.

Read Carolyn’s full speech here

Turning to the Northern Irish domestic pollical landscape, Carolyn highlighted the importance for the restoration of a functioning Executive to ensure the voice of the Northern Irish business community was heard in the Brexit negotiations, before praising the Northern Irish business community for taking the lead in becoming the voice of the economy, jobs, prosperity and living standards.  

In advance of the speech, Carolyn also co-signed a joint letter with the General Secretary of the TUC, Frances O’Grady, calling on politicians to take a hard border off the negotiating table once and for all.

With less than a year until the UK leaves the EU, people and businesses across the island of Ireland are facing intolerable uncertainty about the future of the Irish border. The issue can no longer be treated as an inconvenience that can be delayed. It is time for practical choices to rule out a hard border in Ireland, not just warm words.

Read the co-signed joint letter here

As talks and negotiations continue in the lead-up to next month’s European Council meeting, the CBI will continue to engage with negotiators in both Westminster and Brussels to highlight the need for evidence to take precedence over ideology to protect jobs and prosperity.

For more information, insight and intelligence on the latest Brexit developments and its implications, visit the CBI’s Brexit hub, or contact EUNegotiations@cbi.org.uk.