DEAL BETTER BUSINESS SPEAKS TO IBEC CEO DANNY MCCOY ABOUT THE GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO BREXIT, THE LIKELIHOOD OF A NO-DEAL SCENARIO AND WHAT HE THINKS THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR IRISH BUSINESS.
he subject of Brexit has been difficult to ignore since the UK voted to leave the European Union in May 2016, and it’s impossible to avoid when we sit down to talk to Danny McCoy. But at crunch time for Theresa May’s Chequers vision, the CEO of Ibec, Ireland’s largest lobbying body, is optimistic about what the final deal will look like and pragmatic about its impact on Ireland. “We know Brexit is going to happen in some form, and even a second referendum to reverse it is not going to be without consequences for the business community,” he explains. “It’s not as if you can just wipe this away and go back. Brexit has unleashed a chain of circumstances. It has created huge uncertainty about British society and business. And given the dominance of having a G7 country on our doorstep, it’s going to have consequences for quite some time.” There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about a hard Brexit, but McCoy believes those chances are “absolutely miniscule”. “No business community is going to allow their government to pursue that policy,” he asserts. “We had to listen to that nonsense over the summer
months, and that’s not without consequence; that’s been spooking businesses and you see that in the [Economic] Pulse survey in the Bank of Ireland where business uncertainty and confidence about the future has been damaged.” McCoy is keen to commend the hard-line stance the Government has taken on the Brexit issue since the outset. “The Irish Government has taken a position and stuck to it, which is very positive. We would have been surprised about what a hard line they were taking at the start, particularly the north-south dimension and the all-island aspect because, for business, east-west is by far the more significant relationship. A lot of cards were put on the all-island dimension and the no border on the island. “Where they put the border is a contentious point – for Irish business, a border in the Irish Sea is not very palatable because most of SME Ireland, if they’re exporting, their trade is with Britain. In trying to find a good accommodation in scenarios, the east-west dimension, purely coming from a business context, would be a much more significant relationship, yet the Irish Government has put more emphasis on the north-south dimension.” “The Irish Government, I believe, have in retrospect played a very consistent and strong role and are to be commended for that. I think that has locked in the full support of the other EU26.”
Double Tragedy McCoy refers to a “double tragedy” of Brexit for the UK, and the silver lining for Ireland: by Britain creating uncertainty about its participation in the EU, even before the vote, Ireland has been a winner in terms of corporate tax revenue.
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