Northern Ireland news

Business leaders react to Theresa May's Brexit white paper

British Prime Minister Theresa May published the new details yesterday. Picture by AP

BUSINESS leaders in Northern Ireland have given a cautious welcome to Theresa May's long-awaited Brexit blueprint.

Glyn Roberts from Retail NI said the proposals in the British government's white paper for the future EU-UK relationship, were "far from perfect" but it was "a step forward and does represent a more realistic basis for the forthcoming Brexit negotiations".

"Trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK must remain unfettered regardless of the Brexit agreement outcome," he said.

"This White Paper includes all of those commitments, promising frictionless trade, avoiding customs and regulatory border checks, through a facilitated customs arrangement."

He said the paper is "progress" but there was "still a very long way to go in the negotiations".

John McGrane from the British Irish Chamber of Commerce welcomed the publication as "real progress", but called for a full agreement on services to be sought.

"Clearly there are many elements which will need refinement but the basis for a workable outcome are now on the table."

Danny McCoy from Ibec, which represents Irish business, said it was a significant development, which would "allow meaningful negotiations to take place".

"The UK paper points towards a less disruptive Brexit, but complex challenges remain."

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