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Brexit: Minister's Vote/Impact on NI

Oral Answers to Questions — Economy – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 25th October 2016.

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Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance 3:15 pm, 25th October 2016

T2. Mr Lyttle asked the Minister for the Economy why he has been so reluctant to tell the people of Northern Ireland how he voted in the EU referendum and whether his Department has modelled what impact leaving the European single market will have on the economy of Northern Ireland. (AQT 407/16-21)

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

There are some who wish to go over the referendum campaign again and again. I have made it perfectly clear that my job now, irrespective of how people voted, is to focus on getting the best deal for Northern Ireland. I encourage the Member and his party and, indeed, all sides of the House to get the head down, get on with the work and get the best deal for Northern Ireland.

Photo of Chris Lyttle Chris Lyttle Alliance

I note the Economy Minister has failed again to answer either of the two questions I attempted to ask on the single market. We heard today how a planned £100 million investment fund has been downgraded and repackaged, however skilfully, by Finance Minister Ó Muilleoir to a £30 million First Step Stimulus package because the European Investment Bank is no longer willing to take an active role in the fund. Why is the European Investment Bank no longer willing to take an active role, and is that in any way connected to the Brexit vote?

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

I think the Member is at cross purposes; it is not my job to answer for the Finance Minister. The stimulus package has no relation to the investment fund, which, of course, I am very familiar with, having come up with the idea while I was Minister of Finance. The Member should put those issues to the Minister of Finance and seek answers from him.

I am sorry for the Member that the predictions of doom and gloom that he, his party and others on all sides of the House engaged in, have not come to pass. To borrow a phrase from one Member, we have not been plunged into recession. The UK is doing well, the Northern Ireland economy continues to do well and the predictions of doom and gloom of everybody from international banking, the IMF, the World Bank and all the great authorities — and I would not count the Member in that category, of course — have not come to pass. We have to get the best deal that we possibly can from this. We need to get our heads down, get on with the work that my Department is engaged in and feeding into the Executive Office — the First Minister and deputy First Minister were obviously engaged directly with the Prime Minister yesterday — and do our very best to get the best possible deal for Northern Ireland.