Alliance Councillor Gavin Walker has said those who didn’t support his party’s motion against a no deal Brexit showed “complete disdain” for the genuine concerns of the business community.
Councillor Walker was speaking after the motion at Ards and North Down Borough Council calling for the removal of a no deal Brexit as an option fell 16 votes to 14, with the UUP abstaining. He said it was still an important debate to have, with the predicted catastrophic outcome no deal would have on businesses and jobs throughout Northern Ireland.
“Their voice – and indeed the voices of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland who have repeatedly expressed their desire to have a no deal Brexit removed as an option – has been shamelessly ignored by DUP and many Conservative Party representatives at Westminster,” he said.
“We were disappointed neither the DUP or UUP could bring themselves to support our motion. Indeed, by abstaining en masse, the UUP showed complete disdain for the genuine concerns of our business community.
“With a recent NI Chamber of Commerce survey showing 40 per cent of responding companies plan to move some or all of their business and jobs out of Northern Ireland should there be a no deal Brexit, the decision of the DUP and UUP to defeat our motion shows theirs is not an evidence-based, rational approach to Brexit.
“The Prime Minister has admitted no deal would result in some ‘bumps in the road’. But when these aren't just bumps but the road being destroyed, causing failed businesses, lost jobs and the decimated hopes and dreams of people in Northern Ireland, especially younger citizens, responsible elected representatives must speak out. That’s what Alliance Party did, and we will continue to speak out for our businesses and our community.
“While the Council is obviously unable to directly influence the final outcome of Brexit, with Westminster prorogued and Stormont inactive thanks to the DUP and Sinn Féin, we felt it was important to express the concerns of residents and businesses that have shared their frustrations with us over the past months within the only local democratically elected body still functioning.”