Northern Ireland’s economy has performed better than all other UK nations and regions due to Brexit, official figures show.
ONS data on the Covid pandemic bounce back showed the region is thriving under the Northern Ireland Protocol, with its economic output over recent months only 0.3 per cent below the same period of 2019.
The statistics show Northern Ireland performed better than any other part of the UK, with Britain’s overall economic recovery falling 2.1 per cent over the same period according to the Financial Times.
Northern Ireland success due to EU
Jonathan Portes, professor of economics at King’s College London, said it was “plausible that Northern Ireland has done better” because the Protocol allows it to be part of the EU single market.
The fresh data comes after last month it emerged Northern Ireland was the only region in the UK with increasing imports for the first half of 2021, compared to the same period last year.
“Northern Ireland has a large public sector which has helped to protect its economy during the pandemic,” said Richard Holt, economist at Oxford Economics.
London next most successful due to work from home
Holt added it was unsurprising that London was the second-best performing area in the country due to its large proportion of workers being able to work from home, compared to other UK regions.
By contrast, West Midlands’ economic output stayed at almost 10 per cent below pre-pandemic levels.
Last month, Brexit minister David Frost admitted trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland has gone up since Brexit – but suggested it cannot keep benefitting from the EU’s single market, as this would hurt the UK.
Speaking on Policy Exchange’s Brexit Panel on the fringes of Tory party conference, Frost admitted supply chains are being “reordered quite quickly” and trade between Northern Ireland the the Republic has increased in both directions based on both British and Irish figures.
Brexit minister wants Northern Ireland to stop benefitting from EU
But he suggested things have to change: “People and businesses do respond very quickly to incentives and incidentally the other area where you see this is trade movements from Ireland across Great Britain into the rest of the EU, where the so-called ‘land bridge’ has sort of collapsed in the first nine months of this year.
“So that’s one reason why we can’t wait very long, things aren’t happening and it isn’t just theoretical.”
Martin McTague, policy and advocacy chairman at the Federation of Small Business, warned at the time that the post-Brexit Irish trade success will “inevitably” weaken the links with Britain and “put pressure on the Union”.
“What would worry me is that you get a sort of two-speed UK where different things are going to happen in Northern Ireland to the rest of Great Britain,” McTague added.