No-deal Brexit capable of derailing economy and reigniting Troubles

Posted By: September 06, 2019

Distributed to Congress by the Irish National Caucus
Irish-born actor and movie star Chris O’Dowd has his own take on Bexit and the “ Backstop”:
‘It seems oddly fitting to the people of Ireland,’ he says finally, ‘that Brexit is coming down to the “Backstop.” The suggestion that the British government is making – that they won’t f*** us over – is laughable. That’s what they have done for 800 years. People growing up in Britain won’t have much sense of that. Their history books don’t really dwell on the depraved way Britain has treated its closest neighbor. What do I think will happen? Irish prosperity and peace are going to be completely usurped by Westminster. Again.’ (Irish Times. Friday, September 6, 2019).
And the attached Irish Times article paints a further very bleak picture.”
—Fr. Sean McManus

Ireland, more than any other EU state, is at the mercy of events way beyond its control

Eoin Burke-Kennedy. Irish Times. Dublin. Friday, September 6, 2019

‘Whatever happens with Brexit, in the end, is likely to be bad news for Ireland, assuming, of course, there isn’t a second referendum and the UK decides to stay in.’

The European Commission this week described Brexit as a “singular event” that “could constitute a major disaster”. The EU’s executive arm signaled it would call for the release of funds from the European Solidarity Fund, normally reserved for victims of natural disasters such as earthquakes, to cushion the financial blow for exposed countries like Ireland.

At the same time, Ministers here have been warned that the hit to Ireland from a crash-out Brexit could be far worse than previously thought. At Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, a high-level briefing document was circulated – and later collected back from them. It left several Ministers taken aback by the severity of the warnings.

The report suggested that 10,000 jobs in the tourism and hospitality industry were likely to be lost in the first three months after Brexit and that there would be “carnage” in the fishing industry.

Both events, exacerbated by the current Westminster turmoil, reflect the fear now coursing through Brussels and Dublin about the UK’s impending divorce. The Central Bank predicts we could see up to 34,000 fewer jobs by the end of next year and more than 100,000 over the medium term. That’s significant given headline unemployment rate, now at 5.3 percent, means there are 126,000 people out of work.

The Department of Finance suggests economic growth here, which has been a multiple of the eurozone average for several years, could flatline in 2020 and be reduced by about 5 percent over the longer term. That’s the equivalent of having €15 billion wiped off the value of the Irish economy.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has also signaled that the public finances are likely to take a €6 billion hit, with the projected budget surplus for 2020 morphing into a deficit of up to 1.5 percent.

Bad as these predictions are, many believe they fail to capture one of the key risks – namely the potential disruption to supply chains. The European economy is underpinned by a complex network of cross-border supply chains, built up over years, that will not be easily disentangled. The disruption in this area is perhaps the greatest unknown in the Brexit equation.

A recent report by the Irish Maritime Development Office indicates that nearly 40 percent of “unitized” Irish exports to continental Europe – in other words, container freight – equating to three million tonnes annually, uses the UK land bridge. What impact Border controls at Dover, the UK’s main cross-channel port, will have on this trade is not yet clear.

Equally, 70 percent of our medicines come from, or through, the UK. In a no-deal Brexit scenario, the UK will no longer be part of our regulatory jurisdiction.

While the UK has pledged to favor flow over customs checks in a bid to lessen the likely logjams at ports, the French plan to impose strict EU controls on UK goods coming into that country.

A leaked UK government report recently warned that British supply trucks, many of them carrying Irish produce to Europe, will be unprepared for French customs and that this could reduce the number of vehicles passing through by up to 60 percent within a single day of Britain crashing out of the trading bloc with a “catastrophic” impact on trade.

“You could get into a . . . situation where a small component in the supply chain of some product gets held up, then that has enormous implications for a certain sector,” says Martina Lawless of the Economic and Social Research Institute.

While a lot of the focus to date has been on how Irish trade with the UK might be affected, she admits nobody has a good handle on how Irish trade with continental Europe, the trade that uses the UK land bridge, will be affected.