“Potential lifeline” for Harland and Wolff amid the backstop blues


The FT reports on a potential lifeline to build Royal Navy frigates for Harland and Wolff.  

A consortium led by defence group Babcock International has won the competition to build new frigates for the Royal Navy, securing hundreds of jobs at British shipyards, including in Northern Ireland and Scotland. Under the original proposal, the plan was to assemble the vessels at Rosyth using “blocks” built by H&W and Ferguson. It remained unclear if the role of H&W and Ferguson in the consortium would be affected by their predicament.

The question: is H&W with a  laid off work force of 130, in any position to benefit from this contract?

Northern Ireland  Business speaks truth to power to Boris Johnson.

“I think there potentially is some model there where Northern Ireland could potentially have the best of both worlds, in the sense that there could be full, unfettered access to the EU single market and the UK single market,” said Glyn Roberts, chief of Retail NI

This is against the predicted impact of Brexit papers, called Yellowehammer, practically identical to the leak to the Sunday Times, but only six pages published yesterday. How much more devil is in the detail?

Yellowhammer on Northern Ireland – “ the realistic  worse case scenario (whatever that means) From the Belfast Telegraph

It warns of electric price hikes, shortages on medicine and food supplies as well as concern for animal welfare over shortage of veterinary supplies, lengthly delays at ports, protests and disorder.

On Northern Ireland it warns there will be “significant pressure” to find arrangements to manage the border within days or weeks because of the barriers for trade.

It adds:

  • Plans to mitigate against imposing a hard border will be unsustainable.
  • Tariffs for goods entering Ireland will “severely disrupt trade” forcing business to stop trading or relocate with costs passed on to customers.
  • Agri-food sector hardest hit given its reliance on cross-border supply chains.
  • There could be a split in the single energy market on the island which – although not affecting supply – could see price hikes with “associated economic and political impacts”.
  • There could be clashes between fishing vessels in UK waters around Northern Ireland.
  • Disruption to key sectors, job losses, protests, direct action and road blocks.

“Price and other differentials are likely to lead to a growth in illegitimate activity,” the paper states.

“This will be particularly severe in border communities where both criminals and dissident groups already operate with greater threat and impunity.”

The document is broadly in line with a similar report by the Northern Ireland Civil Service. That warned of 40,000 job losses and severe disruption.

Assessment from BBC Economics editor Faisal Islam

The section on Northern Ireland is particularly concerning. In many respects it is incredible to have such a list of the plausible consequences of what is government policy. It is not difficult to see why the government resisted its release. It is unlikely to improve the mood of an already sceptical Commons. But it is really the first tangible, quotable, warts and all assessment of what Whitehall fears could be around the corner.