David McWilliams is a leading Brexit commentator, and one of our most popular speakers on economic issues. This week he gave us an exclusive short interview on what he thinks Brexit will bring for Ireland.
Q. 1 Brexit, the upshot – good or bad for Ireland?
It’s a huge medium-term opportunity for Ireland. As well as trading together, Ireland and the UK are in competition for talent and capital and Brexit will unleash forces in the UK which will make Ireland look like the best place to invest in the EU.
Q. 2 You do a lot of talks on Brexit. What do companies most want to know and why?
Companies trading with the UK need to know what supply-chain implications Brexit suggests. The international trading system makes a mockery of notions like the national economy idea; all economies are interdependent, and where the Brexit people have got it wrong is the idea that they can insulate their economy. Most companies want to know how bad the short-term disruptions will be and what the long term opportunities look like.
Q. 3 What areas of trade will be most immediately impacted if there is a hard Brexit?
Manufacturing will be most hurt, plus importing or retail and some food. But it will not last too long.
Q.4 We talk a lot about the downside of Brexit, but what are the opportunities if any?
The opportunities are enormous. Brexit will see the UK enter a 10-year period of political conflict, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland
. You will also have a situation where there is an economic chasm between a rabid Tory party and an extreme Labour Party; the former wants to destroy workers’ right, while Labour wants to destroy capital’s rights.
Business doesn’t like uncertainty, and the result is that Ireland Inc will look like a fantastic destination in this world.
Q.5 What impact has the diplomatic fallout from Brexit had on Ireland’s ability to do business with the U.K.?
I don’t think this will be a big deal. Lots of anti-Irish stuff going around but this will cool down. See here.(you will need a Financial Times subscription to read this) https://www.ft.com/content/eaae31b2-c004-11e9-9381-78bab8a70848
Q.6 Do you think there will be any long-term damage to relations between the two countries, or that the current tensions will ease once the shape of Brexit – and the Border issue – is finally clear?
See here (you will need a Financial Times subscription to read this) https://www.ft.com/content/7d5244a0-f22d-11e8-ae55-df4bf40f9d0d
Q.7 And finally, the million-dollar question. If you had to devise a workable alternative to the backstop, what would it be?
Wait for the next election. The DUP won’t hold the balance of power and NI becomes a special economic area.