Alliance Party Economic Spokesperson, Stephen Farry, has accused First Minister Arlene Foster of being delusional after she described Brexit as “..the biggest economic opportunity for the UK in decades.” at the DUP Conference.
Stephen Farry said: “This type of rhetoric reflects fantasy economics, and it is frankly disturbing that the First Minister is articulating this.
“It is one thing to call for people to respect the Brexit referendum, but it is an entirely different matter to pretend that this opens up a new world of milk and honey.
“The essence of the Brexit vote was about prioritising control of borders, restricting immigration, and trying to recapture some long since expired notion of sovereignty in a globalised world at the expense of economic interests.
“Brexit is a massive self-inflicted economic wound. The overall UK economy has already shrunk in size, and seeing reassessments of long-term growth projections for our economy. Whatever trading outcome emerges will inevitably bring some form of obstacles or barrier to Northern Ireland companies doing business.
“Despite the good work of many people over the past few years, the Northern Ireland economy remains structurally weaker than the UK as a whole. And the UK itself continues to have several disadvantages relative to its competitors, in areas such as productivity.
“The tragedy of Brexit, is that it comes at a time when the local economy was on the brink of a real lift-off. Now, with uncertainty over market access, it is going to be more difficult to attract investment.
“To just talk up opportunity does a real disservice those businesses and employees with very real concerns around their future livelihood and prospects, and fails to recognise that major aspects of our economy, such as agri-food, is essentially organised on a North-South basis and are dependent on access to the island as a whole and the wider European Union.
“If the Northern Ireland Executive is genuine about wanting to get the best outcome for Northern Ireland, then at least they need to acknowledge the scale of the challenge.”