Posted on Thursday 11 April 2019 by John Mulgrew
Theresa May has secured a Halloween extension to Brexit following agreement with the 27 EU leaders.
It means the original March 29 deadline, followed by a red line in April, has now been pushed back to October 31, in a bid for the Prime Minister to get a deal over the line.
The agreement has definitively ruled out a ‘no deal’ Brexit on Friday, less than 48 hours before the scheduled date for the UK’s withdrawal.
Business group reaction has been mixed, with relief of not crashing out mixed with concerns over yet further uncertainty for companies.
Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said:
“There is somewhat of a sigh of relief from both consumers and retailers that, because of this latest extension, we will not be crashing out of the EU with no deal tomorrow. But this does not mean that the pressure is off, quite the opposite.
“While we understand the high level of Brexit fatigue, politicians must use the time given to break the political impasse in Parliament. It would be pure negligence by our elected representatives if the we find ourselves once again teetering on the edge of a no deal Brexit in six months.
“Businesses are spending hundreds of millions of pounds putting in place mitigations against a no deal Brexit – this represents time and resources that would be better spent improving customer experience and prices. The timing of Brexit may have changed but our message remains the same. Business and households in Northern Ireland need a deal. The alternative is a no-deal Brexit which will affect jobs, prices and hit the most vulnerable in society hardest.”
National chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), Mike Cherry, said:
“After already facing two potential cliff-edges, on March 29 and April 12, small businesses are being asked to wait and see all over again whether they might face another.
“Extensions do avoid a cliff-edge in the short term, and dodging the economic harm of no-deal at 11pm tomorrow will be a huge relief for many small businesses. What is a problem, however, is that these extensions provide no comfort that there will be an end to the debating, dithering and delay.
“They also eat into the length of the transition period which small firms desperately need if they are to have enough time to prepare for whatever changes they will need to post Brexit. By October 31, a third of the planned transition period will have been lost. Unless we get a political consensus, all a further extension does is create even more uncertainty which is driving small firms to despair.
“Frankly, they are fed up of being made to pay the price for the political crisis that has engulfed Westminster. We have seen some cross-party engagement in recent days to try and end the stalemate. There should be no let-up in attempts to deliver the circuit breaker needed to secure a solution to this crisis.”