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Brexit isn’t just about ’trade’. May 26, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A revealing piece here in the Irish Times from last week about Brexit from Eamonn Walsh (PWC professor of accounting at UCD) in which he makes light of concerns about Brexit. How does he do this? By ignoring the broader issues as regards the political structures on these islands, and the ensuing arrangements that flow from them, or relationships between and within the EU and focusing very narrowly on ‘trade’.

Which is what allows him to make a statement like:

There is a widespread belief that Brexit is bad for Ireland. Headlines appear highlighting billions of losses.
These headlines are well-intentioned but incorrect. Borrowing from Donald Rumsfeld, Brexit largely comprises unknown unknowns – and the only known known is trade statistics. To estimate billions of losses, one must use trade statistics.

But – for example, one doesn’t need trade stats to know that the bilateral arrangements that need to be hammered out on a partitioned island in the context of a Brexit are going to be fundamentally challenging. That an ROI in the EU and a UK outside of it poses further challenges in relation to areas like immigration, travel, etc.

And in truth while there are some who are concerned about trade and other economic impacts most − I suspect – with a long term view would have greater anxiety about the areas mentioned above because one way or another the trade situation will regularise itself, albeit not necessarily to the benefit of this state or island. Whatever one’s views of the issue and people will hold varying ones in all sincerity it is something with multiple overlapping dynamics.

Michael McDowell makes not dissimilar points. Looking at the economic he argues that:

None of this is to imply that there is no serious economic risk for Ireland. But he economic consequences could be double-edged… Ireland’s biggest risk is on the non-economic, political and constitutional issues.

And he argues that ultimately an ‘ever-closer’ union is probably dead in the water at this point given ‘component parts of the Union are not involved’. I hope he’s right actually. I think at the very least a long period of reflection as to the EU is necessary (and as noted here previously some effort to wrest back from the ‘centre’ right aspects of the project a crucial objective even if only to stymie further assaults from the right).


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