DIRECTOR GENERAL JOHN MCGRANE: “The UK now has the breathing space it needs to come together and find a way forward that can find a consensus among parliamentarians and deliver for business and trade.”

The British Irish Chamber of Commerce has reacted to the Article 50 extension granted at the emergency meeting of the European Council last night.

Director General of the British Irish Chamber, John McGrane said: “The British Irish Chamber of Commerce welcomes the extension granted by European leaders last night.

“Businesses have long warned of the dangers of a ‘no deal’ Brexit and last night’s decision decreases the likelihood of such an outcome coming to pass. The UK now has the breathing space it needs to come together and find a way forward that can find a consensus among parliamentarians and deliver for business and trade.

“Recently we have seen a greater focus on the future relationship between the UK and EU and the prospect of a customs arrangement – between the UK and EU with UK input into future trade deals  – is gaining momentum. This could be the key to breaking through the current impasse.

“The British Irish Chamber was the first organisation to formally propose such an idea. Our Big Principles for a Strong Brexit Partnership policy paper set out such a solution as a framework that would protect the vital bilateral trade relationship between our islands while also recognising the advantages of having a strong ally and substantial market such as the UK involved in future global trade negotiations. We now urge all to re-examine this proposal as they look to break the deadlock.

“While last night’s decision lessens the likelihood of a ‘no deal’ departure, it does not eliminate it entirely. Continued uncertainty jeopardises significant parts of the  €70bn worth of trade and  400,000 jobs involved in British-Irish business and it is in the interests of all that we find a solution and do not just move the cliff edge to a new date at the end of October.

“The British Irish Chamber also encourages all UK and EU leaders to remain open-minded to any credible proposals that may come forward from  the current UK cross-party talks.”