Northern Ireland and the economic consequences of Brexit: taking back control or perpetuating underperformance?

Abstract: This paper investigates the economic implications of Brexit by making recourse to original archival studies as well as the literatures concerning modern British and European economic history as well as the Two Irelands. An overriding lesson is that Northern Ireland, like the UK as whole, has suffered from weaknesses in competition and productivity that have given rise to long-run economic underperformance. Only after Brentry was this legislation reversed. Yet while European integration overall tended to improve economic performance, political instability tended to offset these benefits. Despite the political settlement in 1998, much room for improvement remains. Brexit, and in particular the Protocol, has complicated matters further. While the Windsor Framework offers greater economic opportunities than the original Protocol, seising these opportunities is far from inevitable. A better regional industrial policy is possible if the right lessons emerge from the historical evidence. Such a regional policy requires consideration of ‘place-based’ issues and in turn consideration of such issues return us to the importance of historical factors in determining long-run economic performance. Economic history matters more than is often understood.

Keywords: Economic history, Northern Ireland, productivity, competition, Brexit.

Cite this article:
Graham Brownlow (2023), ‘Northern Ireland and the Economic Consequences of Brexit: taking back control or perpetuating underperformance?’, Contemporary Social Science