Northern Ireland

Brexit: 'Best outcome' is withdrawal agreement

Alastair Hamilton head of Invest NI
Image caption Alastair Hamilton said Invest NI had concerns about the lack of clarity over Brexit for businesses

The best Brexit outcome is that a withdrawal agreement is reached to allow "a smooth transition" from the EU, the chief executive of Invest NI has said.

Alastair Hamilton made the comments following the announcement of 80 new jobs in Dungannon on Thursday.

He said that it would be "difficult to quantify" damage caused by a no-deal Brexit.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU on Friday 29 March.

'Absence of clarity'

Two weeks ago, the Invest NI board expressed deep concern about how unprepared many businesses are for a potential no-deal scenario on 29 March.

On Thursday, Mr Hamilton said: "It is difficult to quantify exactly the damage that would be caused by a no-deal Brexit, but it is not our preferred outcome.

"The best scenario is that a withdrawal agreement in reached."

He would not be drawn on how politicians should act, including the DUP, whose MPs want the backstop part of the Brexit deal removed.

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The backstop is effectively an insurance policy to avoid a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, if no other solution can be found through a wider trade deal with the EU.

"Our job is not to get involved in the debate around Brexit," said Mr Hamilton.

"We are concerned that companies, in the absence of clarity, are not prepared for what comes beyond 29 March."

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