Voters in the UK will go to the polls on the 23rd June to vote in a referendum to either stay in or leave the European Union. Commonly known as BREXIT, this referendum, according to some commentators, is the most important event in a generation for Irish business.
What’s it got to do with Ireland? The UK accounts for over 16% of all exports from Ireland so is our single biggest and most important trading partner, especially for indigenous food and drink companies.
Opinion in Ireland appears to be divided on the impact BREXIT will have on the Irish economy.
Robbie Kelleher, a senior investment advisor with Davy’s, thinks the possibility of a BREXIT is low. He also believes that ‘the possibility of Britain leaving the EU would have consequences for Irish trade, but not as much as in the past.’
Danny McCoy, chief executive of IBEC, argues in the Irish Times on May 6th that ‘having such a large, dynamic economy leave the EU would constitute a huge blow for Ireland.’
Jim Power, a leading independent economist, believes that ‘Ireland’s economy would likely fare well enough even if the UK were to vote this summer to leave the EU.’
Dan O’Brien, chief economist at the Institute of International and European Affairs, argued back in March in the Irish Independent that ‘anyone who believes that Britain outside the EU will not damage the Irish economy simply doesn’t understand how European economic relations work.’
David McWilliams, another leading independent economist, is clear in his mind that ‘we will do just fine if there is a BREXIT.’
We’ve selected five of the leading economic commentators in Ireland and their opinion, as you can see, is divided.
Switch over to the Irish government’s view and following Enda Kenny’s re-appointment as Taoiseach, there is no doubt that he has pledged his total support to David Cameron who has staked his own political future on the UK remaining in the EU. The Irish government is very much in favour of the UK remaining in the EU.
As Pat Leahy reports in the Irish Times on the BREXIT threat, he says that ‘much of that threat is unquantifiable but it would certainly present security, commercial and political difficulties for Ireland.’
Estimates vary but close on 600,000 Irish-born people are eligible to vote plus the millions of Irish descent in the UK. Here in Ireland, there are 300,000 or so British people who have a vote. Some pollsters have the referendum at close on a tie so there is no doubting the significance of the expat/descendant vote should they be mobilised.
This blog post, proves, if nothing else, that we can’t be quite certain on what the outcome will be.
What next? What do you think will happen?
For readers of this blog post, please take a few minutes to have your say by taking our BREXIT survey.
We’ll publish the results on Tuesday 24th May here on the website and via our social media channels.