Source: NERI institute quarterly economic outlook

High-quality analysis of the Northern Ireland economy is a bit thin on the ground so it is positive that the Nevin Economic Research Institute is taking up the challenge – rather more than half of its 36-page Quarterly Economic Outlook  is devoted to the north. It starts from the fact that Northern Ireland is much more dependent on exports to the EU than the UK as a whole. And it deals at great length with the distinction between single market and customs union:

“Remaining within the Single Market and most importantly the Customs Union would be the optimal situation for NI. The Northern Ireland Executive must recognize the impact that BREXIT has had on the NI economy already and prepare for the implications of what is to come.”

This report is characterised by the sort of ruthless realism which is badly needed in the post-Brexit debate. There may be a strong political case for respecting the majority which voted to stay in the EU but the Nevin institute sees no strong economic case for staying in:

“….there is little justification for NI remaining in the Single Market alone. Leaving the customs union poses a unique threat to cross-border trade on the island of Ireland and is more likely to have a more immediate impact than leaving the Single Market. An economic case can be made for NI alone remaining within the Customs Union, but it is a weak one.”