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DUP minister Jonathan Bell silent on Deti-commissioned Brexit report

A report by Oxford Economics concludes that Northern Ireland would be worse off if the UK were to withdraw from the EU

DUP minister Jonathan Bell has declined to comment on research commissioned by his department that highlights the ill-effects of Brexit on the north's economy.

The report by Oxford Economics concludes that Northern Ireland would be worse off if the UK were to withdraw from the European Union following June's referendum.

The study was commissioned by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Deti) and looked at nine different Brexit scenarios, some with more severe consequences than others.

In the best case there would be little or no impact on the regional economy. However, as one of the authors told The Irish News yesterday, "the overall thrust illustrates that Northern Ireland would be more vulnerable than the rest of the UK".

Henry Worthington, associate director at Oxford Economics, said: "This is down to Northern Ireland's trade and economic links with the Republic of Ireland and the disruption that would be created by the imposition of a hard border."

It is understood the research was completed by Oxford Economics last month but was released by Deti late on Tuesday.

The Irish News yesterday contacted Mr Bell's department to see if he would comment on the findings, but the minister declined.

The report prompted Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson to call for the DUP - which favours a 'leave' vote in the referendum - to reconsider its position.

"That report is now public and it sets out the case against Brexit – the facts are Northern Ireland will remain stronger as part of the EU, with reduced trade barriers and increased social cohesion among other factors," he said.

"I would call on the minister to admit his party have got this wrong, listen to the experts who are clearly saying we should remain in the EU and the DUP to change their position on this matter."

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