Brexit talks are making slow progress, but Ibec’s work continues.
Last Thursday and Friday I was in London with Ibec President Edel Creely, where we met one of Theresa May’s key advisers at Downing Street and briefed a cross section of MPs and peers at the Irish Embassy. We also held a series of meetings with leading UK business federations, to update them on the Irish business perspective and identify new areas for collaboration.
There’s an appreciation of Irish concerns at the heart of the UK government. However, the fraught, unstable political backdrop, aligned with the sheer complexity of the task, means the British system is clearly struggling to cope. A vulnerable PM and the lack of a clear, coherent political roadmap has left the civil service unable to plan and prepare effectively. With many UK businesses deferring or revisiting investment plans, our counterparts in UK business are increasingly concerned. We should be too.
While British political instability increases the chance that Brexit will be postponed, it also increases the possibility of negotiations breaking down altogether. While a “no deal” outcome is still unlikely, the risk has increased over recent weeks. On balance, it is likely that negotiations will progress to stage two in December. But the UK political system and public is unprepared for the trade-offs that any trade deal will ultimately and inevitably involve. The risk of a divisive, disruptive divorce is very real. It is vital we use all the influence we have in Europe to avoid this happening, and plan for every eventuality.
In the coming weeks, Ibec will set out revised, detailed proposals for our own Government on how to best prepare for Brexit domestically, and we’ll be running events to help you with contingency planning. I’ll keep you posted. At the same time, our lobbying work in Brussels and in other key EU capitals continues.
I've attached our new Brexit Tracker, which provides a quick snapshot of progress in negotiations to date. In a few areas, such as the continuation of the Irish-British Common Travel Area, progress has been made. However, in most areas, such as future EU-UK trade terms, we’re still at square one. Please see www.ibec.ie/brexit for more material and a comprehensive guide to Brexit planning.
If you want more information on any of the above, or have any other queries or comments, please get in touch. It’s always good to hear from you.
All the best,
Monday, 23 October 2017