The £1bn “bung” the DUP receives for supporting the Conservative Government is superficially good news for Northern Ireland’s exporters and freight businesses, says global parcel broker Fastlane International. But it warns the DUP’s hard-line Brexit stance could ultimately harm cross border trade.
The controversial £1bn deal between the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Theresa May’s Conservative Government may look good news for Northern Ireland’s transport operators and export businesses; but it’s potentially a poisoned chalice, warns the London-based global delivery experts Fastlane International.
The £1bn promised to the DUP for infrastructure investment is widely represented in the British press as a ‘bung’ for the DUP’s support of the Government, following the hung-parliament result of the UK General Election. However, Northern Ireland needs infrastructure improvements badly, acknowledges Fastlane’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks MILT.
Says David: ‘Logistics companies serving Northern Ireland have long had to cope with notorious bottlenecks such as Belfast’s York Street junction. The new deal specifically mentions £200 million for two years to pay for York Street’s planned Interchange and other projects. But businesses could pay a heavy price for this investment. The £1bn is likely to be fool’s gold as the DUP deal will make a hard Brexit more likely, damaging many business prospects.’
Says David: ‘On the surface this is a great deal. The money could improve links between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (ROI). Plans for the A5 to be dualled all the way ‘till it meets the N2 were first announced a decade ago, and the ROI was to have paid £400m towards the project. However, Ireland’s “Celtic Tiger” economy ceased to roar in the recession and the funding was shelved. Now the DUP is eager to press ahead with plans to dual parts of the A5 and A6, as well as create a new transport hub for Belfast and bypasses for Ballynahinch and Enniskillen.’
But David warns: ‘The DUP is an avowedly Eurosceptic party, and it will undoubtedly support the Conservative’s more hard-line Brexit strategy; in opposition to a UK parliament increasingly pushing for a softer Brexit approach.’
Concludes David: ‘The more the DUP and Conservatives maintain their opposition to the Single Market and the Customs Union the more likely it will be that EU border checks will be introduced between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – negating much of the promised infrastructure improvements and taking cross border trade back to the bad old days. Northern Ireland’s exporters will face also new tariffs and delays shipping to the EU following a hard Brexit deal, in common with the rest of UK businesses.’
Find out Fastlane’s full predictions on how the recent General Election could impact UK business at: https://www.wedelivertheworld.co.uk/blog/business/what-could-the-election-results-mean-for-uk-logistics