Just as it appeared that David Cameron was gathering momentum in his campaign for Britain to stay in the EU, Boris Johnson’s announcement to support a Brexit has put Cameron’s hopes back a step. There is an argument that Johnson is merely treating this important issue as a pawn to forward his own political ends; however, the same could be said for David Cameron’s referendum proposal in the first place.
The real problem is that while David Cameron and Boris Johnson play with their political football (or should that be rugby ball?), the rest of us are not mere spectators – business and individuals across all the EU, but the UK and Ireland and particular, will suffer real consequences. Britain and Ireland are “joined at the economic hip”, so the mere fact that there will be real uncertainty for the next few months will be bad for Irish business. A Department of Finance report on the matter has indicated that a Brexit would have an impact on wages and trade in Ireland – which makes sense given that 400,000 jobs in Ireland and the UK are supported by British-Irish trade.
The consensus from an Irish perspective is almost wholly against a Brexit. Irish business people should give real consideration to using their many connections with the UK and the power of persuasion that each and every one of us have with a large number of voters over there to influence the outcome. The next few months will see extreme views hit the headlines – perhaps a more moderate Irish perspective will help push a sensible result with Britain opting to stay in the EU.
Mark Butler - Managing Partner - HLB Sheehan Quinn