News & Media

Full estimates of Brexit job losses must be published

6 September 2019

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Northern Ireland

Responding to the estimate that 10,000 jobs could be lost in the tourism and hospitality industries, the leader of the Labour Party, Brendan Howlin TD, called on the government to publish their full estimates of all potential job losses across the economy, and to outline their plan to preserve jobs in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Brendan said: “It is incredible to hear reports that members of the government were ‘taken aback’ by the severity of the potential jobs losses from a hard Brexit. Has Fine Gael not taken this threat seriously up until now? Last year, Paschal Donohoe warned that a hard Brexit could cause a drop of 4% in GDP and 40,000 job losses. What is Fine Gael’s plan one year later to preserve these jobs?

“In the first instance, the government should immediately publish the full extent of their estimates for potential job losses across different sectors. Labour has also been calling for months for the government to name the amount of money that will be available, from Irish and European sources, as a Brexit contingency fund specifically to preserve jobs.

“Labour’s proposal is that there should be direct supports for businesses to help them preserve jobs, for example through subsidising short-time working or other ways of keeping as many people as possible in employment. We know from the 2008 crash that it is much easier to keep existing jobs and businesses than to create new ones.

“The effect of any hard Brexit will be immediate, and therefore all the more severe than 2008, as businesses’ ability to trade with the UK will be here one day, gone the next, with tariffs, paperwork and potentially regulatory issues all adding additional costs to imports as well as exports.

“From talking to trade unionists around the country, I am concerned to hear that a number of medium-sized manufacturers are already experiencing a slowdown of business. As well as our agri-food exports, it should be remembered that we rely on the British market to import components for goods and services that we deliver to the domestic economy or else export further afield. Many businesses are not in a position to suddenly source materials from other countries.

“The government needs to provide a substantial fund that will buy our companies the time they need to adjust to the new reality if a hard Brexit occurs. This cannot just be in the form of loans, as companies in trouble cannot afford to take on new debt. It will ultimately be cheaper for the State to preserve jobs and businesses rather than to pay social welfare and to deal with the fallout from mass job losses. Now is the time for Fine Gael to demonstrate that they have learned the lessons of the last crash.”