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Businesses remain in limbo over Brexit plans

 
BUSINESSES on both sides of the border say they remain in limbo about how Britain’s departure from the EU will affect their operations.
 
Boris Johnson’s recent defeats in the House of Commons has opened the possibility of Brexit being postponed to January next year. That may all change however should a general election be called.
 
Meanwhile motorists in Northern Ireland are being told they will have to display a GB sticker on their car when driving in the Republic. And a new study has revealed that only ten per-cent of companies are prepared for a no deal Brexit.
 
According to businesses however, they are still none the wiser what it will all mean for them.
 
Paul Arthur has Furniture Liquidator outlets in Strabane and Letterkenny. He told the Chronicle he has been going to Brexit meetings and seminars  for over two years. But with less than 60 days until Britain’s scheduled departure from the European Union, Mr Arthur said he has no idea what the border will look like after October 31.
 
“We have been thinking about this for more than two years and we are still none the wiser,” said the businessman.
 
“I have been to the conferences, to the meetings, I have listened to Inter Trade Ireland, I have heard the advice from the banks but the bottom line is still that we don’t know what Brexit will mean.”
 
Paul Arthur added that while he is confident there will be no return to a hard border, he is preparing for changes in how he does business.
 
“There can’t be a hard border, that is written into the Good Friday Agreement. But there is going to be a change in tariffs and I see us having to pay different duties. How we deal with those tariffs, no one knows, possibly through our VAT. But no one has a clue what things will look like after Brexit. For ourselves though I do see it being a case of business done differently.”
 
Boris Johnson remains adamant that Britain will leave the EU on October 31 and Paul Arthur said he believes Brexit will happen. When though, he is not sure.
 
“We have been kicking the can down the road on this for over two years already and I can see that happening for at least another two years.”
 
Alan Orr is manager of Dolan’s Nisa store which sits right on the border between Strabane and Lifford.
 
He said that while there is still much uncertainty, the human impact of the Brexit process is already being felt by staff living in Donegal but working in the North.
 
“We have around 40 staff employed here and 20 or 25 of them are from Donegal. They get paid in sterling so with the exchange rate as it is and the sterling so weak, they are having to pay that bit more to cover their bills.
 
“On the wider issue of Brexit, we still have no idea what it will all mean and it has been that way for almost three years now. We do get a lot of customers from Donegal who come in to buy groceries, alcohol, petrol, those day-to-day things so if border checks were introduced, it would be a direct hit on us. 
 
“These are the things that are not being considered, the human impact Brexit might have. It is well and good standing in Westminster debating this stuff but it is people along the border in towns like Lifford and Strabane who will be affected.”
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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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