SDLP Brexit spokesperson and South Belfast MLA Matthew O’Toole has pointed to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as more evidence showing that the Protocol is shielding the North of Ireland from the worst effects of Brexit – and further undermining the claim that the North is suffering economically.
The new figures show the North’s regional Gross Value Added (GVA) loss compared with Quarter 4 of 2019 is the lowest when contrasted with Scotland, Wales and England’s regions.

Mr O’Toole said: “These findings from ONS are the latest evidence not just that the Protocol is protecting our economy, but that the claims of economic damage have been hysterical distortions and fabrications from unionists and the UK Government.
“Throughout this year we have heard lurid warnings and claims that the NI economy was on the verge of collapse. In fact, we have outperformed regions in Britain.
“The Protocol is inferior to EU membership, but local businesses have something that firms in Britain have lost – access to both British and European markets. As well as finding solutions to practical issues around implementation, we should be maximising the benefits from dual market access that we are already seeing.”

Back in August new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) in the South showed  major growth in exports from the North to the South from the start of the year since the implementation of the Protocol. Last week Mr O'Toole hailed a new investment announcement for North Belfast as proof that that the Protocol has benefits for the North of Ireland.