Irish Government Says Brexit Happening October 31

If you go onto an Irish government website today this is the splash advert you see. They still seem pretty certain Brexit is happening in 24 days on October 31…

Magners: Now is a Good Time to Switch to Britain

Irish cider and beer maker C&C Group, whose brands include the Magners and Bulmers ciders, as well as Tennants lager, said it will seek admission to London’s FTSE and discontinue its Irish stock market listing, simultaneously switching its financial reporting from euros to sterling from October 7, the company announced this morning. The company will cancel its listing in Dublin, despite Brexit…

Coveney Casts Doubts on Ireland’s No Deal Plans

The wobbles among the Irish political class over Varadkar’s uncompromising stance on the backstop are continuing to grow. Now former Irish Europe Minister Lucinda Creighton has penned an article defending opposition spokesman Tommy Dooley – who caused a major stir last week after lashing out at Varadkar’s “arrogant” Brexit approach and accusing him of a “failure to engage in basic diplomacy”. Creighton, who was a key figure in the ‘Yes’ campaigns in Ireland’s two Lisbon Treaty referendums, writes:

“The idea that the government’s stance is beyond criticism or scrutiny is quite ridiculous… That an opposition TD was forced to delete a tweet simply because it criticised the Taoiseach and the government’s handling of Brexit and British relations is a cause for concern…

“It is almost impossible to find a dissenting voice which dares to suggest the framing of the backstop in the withdrawal agreement might not in fact be in Ireland’s best interests…

“Such a mass closing of minds to alternative opinion is deeply worrying. I say this as someone who broadly agrees that the backstop is the optimal way to avoid a hard border and protect the Good Friday Agreement. However, to choose to ignore the risks inherent in the EU and Irish position is plainly wrong. We need to face up to them.”

It comes after Patrick Coveney – brother of Tánaiste Simon Coveney and CEO of Irish food giant Greencore – warned that Ireland’s no-deal contingency plans for smooth goods transit across the UK land bridge might not work in practice. Will the younger Coveney heed the warning of his older brother and shift his position on the backstop…?

Irish Central Bank Warns of 100,000 Jobs Lost if No Deal

The Central Bank of Ireland has sounded off about potential ‘cliff-edge’ risks in the event of a no-deal, no-transition Brexit:

“The main outstanding source of risk to financial stability in Ireland stems from a worse-than-expected macroeconomic shock. This could arise if the expected negative impact through trade channels is compounded by a sharp increase in uncertainty and a fall in confidence, with knock-on effects to Irish employment, incomes and investment. Ireland’s relatively acute exposure to Brexit may also negatively alter investor sentiment towards Irish assets, with adverse implications for financing conditions of an already relatively indebted private sector. Given the extent of direct and indirect exposures, this would result in unanticipated losses for the domestic financial system.”

The Central Bank forecasts that in a No Deal scenario Irish economic output could be approximately 6% lower in 2020. In the understated language of central bankers they warn of

“… severe financial market dislocation and have potential knock-on effects for financial stability in Ireland. Negative income shocks arising from a disorderly Brexit scenario would present challenges to the private sector in Ireland, and the domestic banking system from which they have borrowed .Despite recent delevering and balance sheet repair, the Irish non-financial sectors remain heavily indebted. Household debt as a percentage of disposable income ranks fifth highest within the EU and slightly above the OCED average,while a small pocket of SMEs still carry high debt levels. Irish retail banks remain the most important source of external financing for households and SMEs. The exposure of the Irish banking system to SMEs is significant vis-à-vis sectors that would be most affected by a disorderly Brexit, such as agriculture (Primary Industries), manufacturing, retail trade and tourism (Hotels & Restaurants). In addition, one quarter of Irish banks’ credit exposures are directly to borrowers in the UK, predominantly to the household and corporate sectors, (62% and 31% of UK exposures, respectively), creating a direct source of risk from a disorderly Brexit.”

Yesterday’s third quarterly report report from the bank predicts there will be around 34,000 fewer jobs by the end of next year and more than 100,000 fewer jobs over the medium term compared to their forecast in the event of no deal. The Irish workforce is only two and a quarter million – one fifteenth the size of the UK. This would be like the UK losing 1.5 million jobs, almost 5% of the workforce…

icb

The Irish business community is getting uneasy and going to start demanding politicians get real and show some flexibility over the backstop. The Irish economy is at full capacity with GDP growth forecast to come in at a scorching 4.9% this year, this would plunge to 0.7% next year in the event of no deal…

Come on Hair-lene

Bit of a bad hair day for Arlene this morning, she had dinner with Boris last night. Looks like it was a good one…

Senior Irish Politician Lashes Out at ‘Arrogant’ Varadkar’s Brexit Strategy

The cracks are growing ever larger in Ireland’s once united front on Brexit. Now it’s a senior TD (MP) who has caused a major stir by dramatically breaking ranks with the cross-party line that everything Leo Varadkar does on Brexit is beyond reproach. Timmy Dooley, Communications Spokesman for Fianna Fáil, blasted Varadkar’s “failure to engage in basic diplomacy over the past 2 years” in a now-deleted tweet:

Fianna Fáil is committed to a confidence and supply agreement with the governing Fine Gael to “strengthen Ireland’s hand in negotiating a successful outcome to Brexit”, so this is unnerving from a party that hitherto at least publicly supports the Irish government’s stance. Dooley earned a public rebuke from his party leader Micheál Martin, while Fine Gael’s pugnacious keyboard-warrior-in-chief Neale Richmond has naturally been triggered, however the damage has already been done. The Irish political class is increasingly waking up to the fact that Varadkar waving a piece of paper saying “Olly Robbins signed this two years ago” is not a sustainable Brexit strategy…

Ireland Starting to Turn Against Varadkar’s Brexit Approach

While Boris got a nice boost from the weekend’s polling, all is not as rosy for his EU counterparts. Irish support for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s Brexit policy has sharply dropped. Less than half the public now support their leader’s pugnacious approach…

It’s a big fall from January when a poll asking the same question asking the same question found 60% backed Varadkar. This has now fallen by 17 points to 43%, with dissatisfaction rising by the same margin. If Boris’s No Deal threat doesn’t make the Taoiseach buckle, domestic pressure will come to bear ever more strongly…

The Irish commentariat are also increasingly questioning Varadkar’s approach. Over the weekend Business Post columnist Colin Murphy argued the backstop has “been a disaster for Ireland”, Dan O’Brien, Chief Economist at the Institute of International and European Affairs, warns that the “first duty of those who oppose tribalism is to acknowledge the tribalism of one’s own side”, while Eoghan Harris blasts:

Unless we bin out fraudulent backstop, Boris Johnson will crash out of the EU, leaving our economy in ruins and our relations with England, our nearest neighbour, in rag order”.

Tectonic plates slowly starting to shift…

Coveney Begins No Deal Blame Game Already

The new PM hasn’t even been announced and Irish Deputy PM Simon Coveney is already trying to pass the buck on no deal, sticking to his line that the backstop is the only game in town so it’ll be the fault of the Brits if a deal doesn’t go through because of it. Never mind the fact that his government has already published plans for checks away from the border if there’s no deal…

Calamity Karen’s Grovelling Apology

Comprehensively calamitous Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley has put out a grovelling apology statement after sparking an international incident with her astonishingly poorly judged comments about The Troubles yesterday. Bradley told the Commons that killings that “were at the hands of the military and police were not crimes” and “They were people acting under orders and under instruction and fulfilling their duties in a dignified and appropriate way.”

Bradley had to go to the Irish embassy for an emergency meeting with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney last night, Coveney has now reported her grovelling apology back to the Dáil and Bradley will travel to Belfast tonight to personally apologise to families affected. Good job there’s nothing politically sensitive going on at the moment regarding Northern Ireland…

The just jaw dropping ignorance of the Northern Ireland Minister is stunning.

German Economists: No Deal Will Hit Ireland Three Times Harder than UK

Germany’s prestigious IFO Institut has crunched the numbers on the economic impact of no deal on 44 countries and predicted that Ireland would be hit three times harder than the UK by a no-deal Brexit, taking a massive 8.16% hit to their economy. Guido hears that Ireland has been the main EU27 country holding out against any reference to the UK’s basic Vienna Convention treaty rights over the backstop. They may want to seriously reconsider their position after seeing these figures…

However, the Institut also modelled the effect of a “hard but smart” Brexit, where the UK left with no deal but also put in place large unilateral tariff cuts, more or less exactly along the lines of what what the Government is planning. In this scenario, the UK actually faces a smaller impact than the EU – they forecast a -0.5% impact on the UK compared to -0.4% for France and -0.48% for Germany, and -0.6% for the EU as a whole. Ireland is still by far the biggest loser, taking a -5.39% hit, ten times the size of the UK…

In their sector-by-sector breakdown, they find that the UK would actually receive a major boost to certain sectors in a “hard but smart” Brexit, with electrical equipment up by 3.7%, machine manufacturing by 8.4% and pharmaceuticals by a whole 8.7%. EU sectors lose out across the board…

Gabriel Felbermayr, the author of the report and also President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, said that the EU needed to “urgently ponder whether the danger of a hard Brexit isn’t bigger than initially assumed” and called on the EU to offer to remove the backstop “as a quick fix at least”. Brussels and Dublin can only keep sticking their fingers in their ears for so long…

H/t Pieter Cleppe

Irish PM Privately Telling Opposition Leaders Hard Border Will Be in Calais

Irish PM Leo Varadkar and Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney are expected to offer to meet a DUP delegation this week. The penny is dropping in Dublin that despite Tony Blair’s assurances the British could be about to leave the EU on WTO terms. Despite all the public bluster the reality of the situation is shifting and the Irish government is getting more flexible and creative. To avoid the imposition of a hard border in Ireland the Irish press is reporting that Varadkar is privately telling opposition leaders that they may have to accept EU border checks being imposed on the continent in Calais and other EU entrepôt. There would have to be a fudge on the EU requirement for a hard external border – something that Juncker has already signalled would be acceptable. Whatever happens, deal or no deal, there will be no hard border on the island of Ireland.

Shocked opposition leaders were told by Varadkar that France could take the lead on border infrastructure that would essentially apply to Ireland and the UK “as one bloc” because to keep an open border on the island of Ireland checks would, in the event of no deal, have to be imposed on Irish, as well as British, exports to EU. The DUP will be happy with that. This will of course mean that Ireland will be very keen on a comprehensive UK-EU FTA being concluded quickly to avoid the ongoing need for those checks. Which is the rational outcome business wants…

Irish Foreign Minister: We Could Introduce Checks in the Sea

Irish Foreign Minister and Tánaiste Simon Coveney has been caught on tape saying to Irish Transport Minister Shane Ross that checks on goods will be introduced in the event of a no deal Brexit, and even suggested that those checks “could be in the sea.” He said that he couldn’t publicly acknowledge this for fear of a backlash…

The two members of the Irish Government were talking at the end of press briefing, apparently not realising that the microphone was still live.

The Independent.ie has transcribed the conversation:

Shane Ross: “Yeah. The border one, should I not have said that?”

[This is a reference to a question Mr Ross was asked about whether a truck travelling from Scotland by boat to Larne could then proceed to the Republic without any checks. During the press briefing, he replied: “I would anticipate that there would be checks.”]

Simon Coveney: “Yes, but we can’t get into where they’ll be at this stage. They could be in the sea, they could be… But once you start talking about checks anywhere near the border, people will start delving into that and all of a sudden we’ll be the government that reintroduced a physical border on the island of Ireland.”

Shane Ross: “Yeah, but I didn’t know what to say.”

This reveals a certain disingenuousness on the Irish government’s part because any prospect of checks at a land border would play into Sinn Fein’s hands and is politically unacceptable to the Irish government. Any prospect of a sea border would inflame the DUP/ERG and is politically unacceptable to the UK government. Unless the checks are going to be across the Celtic Sea between Ireland and the EU26…

EU Preparing to Clobber Ireland on Tax After Brexit

Any illusions Ireland might have had that the EU is going to reward them in some way for being its Brexit patsy have evaporated today with the news that the European Commission is pressing ahead with its plan to abolish national vetoes over a swathe of taxation issues. Removing one of the last major hurdles towards an EU-wide tax policy…

Ireland will be particularly hard hit by the changes as their competitive corporation tax rate is central to their impressive growth rates. The EU does not like tax competition or regulatory competition because they expose its own glaring inefficiencies. Hence why their long-term goal is for unaccountable commissars to set all the taxes for 500 million people – and collect them too. It’s only a matter of time before Ireland starts to feel the costs of the EU far more heavily than the benefits…

Juncker & Varadkar Guaranteed to the Irish Parliament No Hard Border in the Event of No Deal

The Brexit negotiations are teetering on the brink over the question of the backstop for the Irish border. Some fundamental truths are being forgotten in the froth of the negotiations:

  • If there is no deal, there is no backstop. If the EU collapses the negotiations by insisting on unreasonable backstop conditions, there will be no backstop whatsoever.
[…] Read the rest

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McDonnell: “I Long For a United Ireland”

McDonnell just told a lobby lunch this afternoon that “I long for a united Ireland, but I recognise democracy.” But refused to rule out a pact between Labour and the DUP. Good luck on that one…[…] Read the rest

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Not Much Confidence in Supply in Dublin Either

As the DUP menacingly make noises threatening to withdraw from their agreement to prop up Prime Minister Theresa May’s government, over in Dublin the Fianna Fáil party leader Micheál Martin has written to the Fine Gael party Taoiseach Leo Varadkar making sure he understands their support through a similar arrangement is very definitely time-limited:

“I think it is best if we both state upfront, irrespective of what happens during the confidence and supply review process, that we both agree not to bring down the Government”.

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Irish Allow Remote Customs Checks

As Guido was travelling through Dublin Airport last night, he noticed the remote customs checks the Americans have, 3,000 miles away from the US border. The Republic of Ireland are perfectly happy with the principle of remote customs clearance, except for when it’s politically convenient not to be…[…] Read the rest

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DD: “There Will Be No Hard Border… It’s That Simple”

David Davis in his Brexit speech in Munich says:

“The border issue is eminently solvable if the political will is there. I do question, therefore, why it has become so intractable. It seems to me this issue has become the proxy for the negotiations as a whole.

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Full Text of ERG’s Proposal for Northern Ireland Border

Guido brings you the ERG’s comprehensive analysis of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. At the table presenting the analysis are an ex-First Minister, 2 former Northern Ireland Secretaries and the former Brexit Secretary. ERG trying to show they mean business with their border question fix.[…] Read the rest

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Raab’s Moses Moment

Dom Raab: “We will do nothing that would draw a customs border down the Red Sea. Irish Sea. Irish Sea.”

Sammy Wilson: “You can draw as many borders down the Red Sea as you want…”

Give him a chance, he’s only been in the job a few days…[…] Read the rest

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