EU ‘obsession’ distracting from benefits of leaving – Campbell

Focus on the Brexit process is “distracting” from “some of the benefits [of leaving the EU] that can already be seen in the economy”, East Derry Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Gregory Campbell has said.

Pointing to figures by the treasury showing an increase in foreign investment, Campbell said: “Since the EU referendum, every piece of bad news has been attributed to the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.

Good news usually has a ‘despite Brexit’ prefix attached to ensure that it is seen as some kind of temporary aberration to the unrelenting ‘doom’ that some believe awaits the UK.

“Meanwhile in the real world, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the United Kingdom increased by £142 billion (€161 billion) in the year following the EU referendum.

“This was a figure so out of step with the narrative of some ‘remainers’ that I did a double check with the House of Commons library where it’s accuracy was confirmed.”

FDI up £142 billion

Campbell asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the level of foreign direct investment in the UK was in the 12 months both prior to and from July 2016.

The answer given by Stephen Barclay read: “The flow of direct investment into the UK in the year to the second quarter of 2016 totalled £80.8 billion.

“In the year since the EU referendum, inward foreign direct investment (FDI) flows improved to £158.4 billion.

“This has caused the stock of inward FDI to increase from £1.35 trillion in the second quarter of 2016 to £1.49 trillion in the second quarter of 2016 – an increase of £142 billion.”

‘Good for our economy’

“Rather than seeing investment flee the United Kingdom after the referendum – which some predicted – inward investment to our shores has increased. Brexit has been good for our economy, the job now is to ensure that this success continues, and is enjoyed right across the UK.

“Here in Northern Ireland, the figures released by NISRA (Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency) again show where we should be focusing our economy. Sales to the rest of the world are not only nearly double of those to the EU (excluding the Republic of Ireland) but are also increasing at a faster rate.

‘An obsession’

“It is worth noting that Northern Ireland exports nearly as much to North America alone (£1.9 billion) as it does to the EU, excluding the Republic of Ireland (£2.3 billion).

“These figures are for a time when we are still part of the European Union and its apparently all-important single market and without an EU/US trade deal in place.

“For some people the European Union has become an obsession and focusing upon every detail of our process to exit the EU is a happy distraction for them from the realities of figures such as these.”

Border commitments

Campbell’s party colleague, MEP Dianne Dodds said the party “shared the goal” of ensuring no hard border between the UK and Republic of Ireland, but added that the most important trade partner for the region was the domestic UK market.

Speaking in Parliament, she said: ‘‘As a result of the strengthening of the text there are clear statements that Northern Ireland will leave the Single Market and the Customs Union along with the rest of the UK. There will be no so-called ‘special status’ within the European Union.

Northern Ireland’s businesses will have unfettered access to the UK single market. There will be no internal trade borders within the UK.

“It is our view that these issues can only be fully resolved in phase two of the negotiations. However, the union that matters economically to Northern Ireland is the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, where trade is worth six times more than trade with the Irish Republic.”