Former US economic envoy warns of negative Brexit consequences

Posted in Google Brexit News
at 2016.10.21
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Former US economic envoy warns of negative Brexit consequences

A FORMER aide to Bill Clinton has warned that Brexit is likely to have an adverse effect on US investment in the north.

Jim Lyons, who in the late 1990s succeeded Senator George Mitchell as special adviser to President Clinton for economic initiatives in Northern Ireland and the border counties, told The Irish News that he expected the uncertainty following June’s vote to leave the EU to hinder the region’s efforts to attract overseas companies.

The US has been a key target for Stormont and Invest NI in attracting inward investment. The creation of hundreds of quality jobs by American firms such as Citi and All State is a testament to the strategy’s success.

But Mr Lyons, who last night spoke at an event in Belfast honouring former first lady and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s contribution to the north, has warned that leaving the EU could jeopardise existing and future US investment.

“Any time you create uncertainty, which is the minimum Brexit does for at least the next two years, that’s a difficult problem for investment capital to overcome,” he said.

“‘Money likes stability’ is the old expression, so I think Brexit is going to be a problem – how big a problem nobody knows.”

Mr Lyons said during his visit to the north he had met a number of people who had talked up the benefits of Brexit, however, he said he remained to be convinced by their arguments.

“Frankly it’s hard for me to see any opportunities at the other side of Brexit,” he said.

“It’s a hope rather than a strategy.”

The 69-year-old Colorado lawyer, who has played a central role in the Democrats’ presidential campaign, insisted the US administration would still regard Northern Ireland as a priority should Mrs Clinton become president on November 8, which he is “cautiously optimistic” she will.

“We’ve got 19 days left and anything can happen in 19 days,” he said.

“As they always do, this race will depend on turnout of the respective bases and that small segment of the electorate that is still undecided.”

He described Donald Trump as “extremely dangerous” and not qualified to be president of the US “by background, by experience or by temperament”.

Mr Lyons said he hoped that after the election US politics could return to something approaching normality.

“What Trump has been successful in doing so far has been blurring the line between reality TV entertainment and serious public discussion – he’s been very successful in doing that,” he said.

“In that process he has also released a toxicity in to our political process that I have never seen in my lifetime and I don’t know how long it’s going to take for that toxicity that is related to him to flush itself out of our system.”

He said what Mr Trump stood for was different from traditional Republican Party principles, including smaller government, lower taxes and strengthening immigration controls.

“He is no conservative – he is a creature of his own design and reality,” he said.

“I would hope that over time the Republican Party will find its footing again around those principles and help the country move past this period of toxicity that Mr Trump has created.”

Mr Lyons was last night guest speaker at the Emerald Ball, an event in Belfast’s Europa hotel to celebrate Hillary Clinton’s long association with the north.

Musician Brian Kennedy entertained guests including the Republic’s housing minister Simon Coveney, DUP councillor Guy Spence, SDLP MP Alasdair McDonnell, Baroness May Blood, and former MLAs Monica McWiliams and Basil McCrea.

Mrs Clinton also provided a special recorded message for the event, with the funds raised going to international charity Concern Worldwide.

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Published at Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:07:20 +0000

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