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Brexit – Keep Calm and Seize The Opportunity

Link Blog | July 6, 2016

Brexit – Keep Calm and Seize the Opportunity

I must admit I find those ubiquitous “Keep Calm and Carry On” memes irritating at best, but given the events which have unfolded since Britain voted to leave the European Union, I might not object to them being plastered on every lamp post in Europe!

Brexit came as something of a surprise, though not a total shock as polls had swung wildly in the lead up to the referendum. The mass media and various commentators have reported the fallout since the vote with a more then a note of hysteria. One national publication described its future effect on Ireland as the next worse thing to war! This doesn’t help. It doesn’t help the prevailing atmosphere or the economy in Britain or in Ireland. Yes, there have been immediate consequences for David Cameron and others in Britain’s political establishment, but nothing has really changed since the votes were counted. The British Parliament has yet to invoke Article 50 which will start the leaving process and they certainly won’t do so before a new Tory leader is elected. If they ever do, it will take up to 2 years to negotiate the exit of Britain from the EU. So we have potentially 2 and a half years before anything really changes. No need for panic.

This isn’t to say that economic actors (investors, job creators and businesses) aren’t ruffled by the prospect of Brexit. They are shook up, they have put investment on hold and they are considering whether Britain really remains a good place to do business. Ireland should take advantage of the opportunity this presents. We are now the only English speaking country in the EU which makes us an even more attractive prospect for foreign (particularly US) investment. We can attract thousands of jobs in everything from Banking, Legal and Professional Services to IT and indeed manufacturing in companies looking for a stable home. These positions will provide employment for Irish citizens and attract top talent from abroad to fill them, boosting incomes and state revenues. I’m already getting calls in the office from people looking to leave London who see Dublin as an attractive alternative.

What the referendum result made clear is that making predictions is a tricky business. If and when Britain does leave there may be challenges. If Sterling remains in the doldrums, it will certainly affect our export businesses, a so called “hard border” may be re-introduced with the North and tariffs may be imposed, all affecting commerce with one of our largest trading partners. However, when political heads cool it should be obvious that for peace and prosperity a mutually beneficial deal should be reached between Britain and the rest of the EU. Markets will eventually calm and life will go on. That’s in everyone’s interest.

The next two years will be important and eventful. Our government, state bodies (especially the IDA) and our people should be smart about how we react, but more importantly we should be proactive. As with all disruptive events, those who come out on top are the ones who stay calm and think clearly. We must quickly institute a plan to take advantage of unfolding events and ensure that if there is an appetite to relocate jobs and investment from Britain that we have positioned ourselves as the obvious choice. Brexit could be a big opportunity for Ireland so lets keep calm and grasp it.

If you are considering looking for work in Dublin or are a business considering moving jobs here, call me in our Dublin office on 01 845 6312 to see how we can use our expertise to make the transition simple.

Cormac Spencer

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