Northern Ireland retailers warn PM over no-deal Brexit impact

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The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) has left the Prime Minister “in no doubt” over its concerns about the impact of a no-deal Brexit on food costs.

Following a meeting with Theresa May in Belfast yesterday (5 February), NIRC director Aodhán Connolly warned her that a no-deal Brexit would result in “availability and affordability issues for households from Belfast to her own constituency of Maidenhead”.

“We were clear that tariffs, customs and checks will all add cost to the average family shopping basket,” he added.

Connolly told C-Store that the Prime Minister was receptive to NIRC members’ arguments. “[She] was in full reassurance mode as to no hard border on the island of Ireland and the need for frictionless trade,” he said.

“We told her that the Northern Ireland border was not just a Northern Ireland problem. A no-deal Brexit will mean higher food costs across the UK from Bradford to Belfast because of the integrated nature of our supply chains. The closer we get to a no-deal Brexit the higher our level of concern becomes.”

He called for an end to political games and brinkmanship, and for the certainty that UK businesses and households needed.

“Any alternative arrangements must provide the same guarantee of continued frictionless, tariff-free trade and movement of people on the island of Ireland as the Backstop does,” Connolly said.

The UK is set to leave the European Union on Friday 29 March.

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