EU committee takes Bradley to task over lack of border clarity after meeting with Kelpie and Neely

John Kelpie.
John Kelpie.

The House of Lords EU Committee has written to the Secretary of State for the North, Karen Bradley, to decry the ongoing lack of clarity over how London intends avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

A missive has been sent to Mrs. Bradley today just weeks after the committee met with the Chief Executive of Derry City and Strabane District Council, John Kelpie, and the Chief Executive of Donegal County Council, Seamus Neely, and were advised by them of just how negative an impact a hard border was likely to have on this region.

The committee wrote: "During our visit to Derry/Londonderry, John Kelpie, Chief Executive of DC&SDC, Seamus Neely, Chief Executive, DCC and Jennifer McKeever, President of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, shared their concerns about the potential economic impact on the North West City Region (the border region in and around Derry/ Londonderry).

"Mr Kelpie cited the way in which the two Councils had cooperated more effectively since 2015, in recognition of the need to work together to enable the region to fulfil its potential.

"This work enjoyed cross-party support on both sides of the border. On the Northern side of the border, prior to the Brexit decision they anticipated creating 'between 13,000 and 15,000 new jobs as a result of this partnership; that our GVA will increase by approximately £500 million; that our tax-take to Treasury will increase by approximately £100 million; and that we will generate an additional £200 million of wages into the local economy through the range of interconnected projects that our strategic partnership has identified as the way forward...Our analysis of the impact of Brexit on those … suggests that there would be significant job loss in this region and that right along the border corridor this region would suffer disproportionately in that loss. It is projected that a quarter of the entirety of the job loss along the border corridor would be in this city region as a result of that.'"

The committee has advised Mrs. Bradley: "A number of witnesses on both sides of the border foresaw economic opportunities arising from Brexit, in particular in the Northern Ireland context, to meet latent UK demand.

"However, the view of the majority of our witnesses remains that the disadvantages of Brexit far outweighed the opportunities, both for Northern Ireland and Ireland.

"Witnesses emphasised the negative impact of both tariff and, in particular, non-tariff barriers to effective trade relationships, both North-South and East-West. Brexit is likely to have a particularly damaging impact on the border regions, which anticipate slower future growth as a result. Uncertainty arising from Brexit has already had a negative impact on investment decisions in these regions."