Three things to watch from an Irish point of view of the #Brexit process…

Former cabinet ministers in Ireland sometimes have their uses. Alan Shatter does a decent job in laying out what faces the UK and her neighbours in the Brexit process. I’d pick out three points in particular:

Firstly, don’t expect that this pristine two year period to take two years and no more….

The complexities involved in Britain’s exit together with the British government’s and the Brexiteers’ complete lack of advance planning may make the need to consider such extension inevitable.

On the other hand, the scheduled European elections, the desire of the remaining EU 27 when appointing a new European Commission to leave Britain out of the mix and the objective of preventing political paralysis in EU decision-making should incentivise progress.

And two, whether the border comes back, or not, depends on the nature of the general deal…

If, immediately following Brexit, free trade is not agreed between Britain and the EU, border controls will be required not just to check people travelling but to ensure compliance with trade tariff rules.

And three, beware the drift over time…

May has asserted that post-Brexit she envisages continued co-operation between Britain and the EU in fighting crime and international terrorism. That is as it should be but the road ahead will not be smooth if following Brexit laws currently harmonised diverge.

A great repeal Act is to come before the Westminster Parliament preserving existing EU law as part of British (and presumably Northern Irish) law following Brexit while enabling such laws to be amended, revoked or replaced by domestic British law.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • hgreen

    No chance of a free trade deal. So border controls it is then either here or hopefully in GB.

    Not all bad for Ireland though as it is set to do very well with the inward investment that would have gone to the UK.

  • Skibo

    Does anyone else here think that Theresa May’s statement was more about asserting her control over the Tory conference than anything else. Before she had no real plan. After she had no real plan. All she had was a date she hopes to keep. Have a look at her record as home secretary as to how she performs. I expect some time in February some low level member of the government will be rolled out to declare that they will not be ready in March and may require another six months before they enact article 50.

  • lizmcneill

    Interesting how Brexit has become all about getting those bloody foreigners out, isn’t it? Is it because it’s becoming clear to the Tories that it’s going to be an economic disaster and they’re engaging in distraction techniques, or were they closet Daily Mail fanatics all along?

  • Kevin Breslin

    While most of the people of Ireland won’t be huge fans of Alan Shatter … I would say a lot of Southern Irish and Irish nationalists from widely across the political spectrum including opponents of the European Union largely agree with this analysis here.

  • Reader

    It’s typically been assumed that Tory employers want cheap employees, and Tory landlords want teeming cities. These were regarded as the reasons why Cameron and May never got to grips with non-EU immigration. So this is something new – maybe the fight for the centre ground is taking an unexpected turn.
    Of course, the original suspicions could have been nonsense, and managing immigration is genuinely complicated (but becoming simpler).
    There – two more theories.

  • hgreen

    No I reckon they’ll definitely trigger article 50 in March not only becasue Teasy will lose credibility if she doesn’t but because what’s the point in waiting?

  • hgreen

    It was always about foreigners.

    What you have now is the swivel eyed xenophobic tories (and ukip) up against the tories for whom business and the city comes first and who clearly wanted to remain. This week is as good as it’s going to get for Teasy.

  • SDLP supporter

    I’m no particular fan of Alan Shatter, but it has now become clear that he was treated quite unjustly when he was ejected from the Irish cabinet. He may have come across as arrogant and opinionated, but he was also quite an effective minister and anyone who takes on the legal lobby and their overweening sense of entitlement-though a lawyer himself-has a lot of commend him to me. Also, his very existence seemed to bring out a small, nasty and discernable trace of anti-Semitism in Irish public life.

  • Skibo

    Liz I always believed that immigration was the main reason for the English to vote Brexit.
    People have been having a tough time with Tory cuts and the UKIP were able to make the EU and immigration in particular the bogeyman for every ones woes. A plan that has been used many a time before to control the working class.

  • Skibo

    Teasy will not be found to blame on March deadline being lost. She has shown on numerous occasions as home secretary that she is able to put up fall guys between her and difficult decisions.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    ‘The British government’s and the Brexiteers’ complete lack of advance planning’

    It looks like the frightened sheep will never aquire the ability to see the facts. The ref was an in / out question, not a comparison of each side’s plans. There was no fuss over plans pre ref, no questioning of what Remainers ‘plan’ was. So now the question in the ref is settled, this is the time for detailed planning. Hence the 2 year window. Shrieking about ‘they have no plan’ is obviously an invented fake argument. Yaaaawwwnn …

  • mickfealty

    We still don’t have a clue what May is going to do yet Hugh. But if it is going it alone, whilst I agree there is stuff to pick up, trade with Ireland’s biggest trade partner bar none is going to hurt.

  • Skibo

    Problem is the referendum was directed by Lies and damned lies and forget about statistics. It is all the fault of them pesky immigrants coming and taking our jobs and getting benefits. Either they were taking the jobs or they were taking the benefits. I could never be sure what was the biggest problem.

  • Skibo

    Trade between ROI and NI is minuscule when compared to ROI and UK. I sometimes wonder are we just being used as pawns for the ROI to preserve free trade between ROI and UK.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    The lies were from the Remain side. WW3 will happen!!! Actually it could still happen over US Russia in Syria…. The immigration point was about uncontrolled immigration. UK in EU no control. Outside EU ‘take back our country’ we have control. But don’t let facts get in your way 🙂

  • Kevin Breslin

    The Republic of Ireland exports more to the United States than to the United Kingdom.

    If there is barriers I think the Republic of Ireland would rely more on imports from their second biggest import market…the United States.

    It is possible that the UK may engineer the conditions where it is no longer the Republic of Ireland’s major trading partner.

  • Croiteir

    that is the reality

  • Zorin001

    How does one “Take Back Their Country” in a world that is becoming increasing Globalised without ending up like some sort of Hermit country ala North Korea?

    Because I keep hearing this Take Back Control slogan and I can’t fathom how that works if a major multinational can just say “right i’m off” at will?

  • Old Mortality

    And may also ‘do very well’ from inward migration as those Eastern Europeans do seem to prefer the linguistic Anglosphere of which Ireland will be the sole representative inside the EU.
    Another uncomfortable thought is that English may cease to be an official language of the EU which would make the life of an Irish MEP much less agreeable. How many of them can actually speak French or German?

  • Anglo-Irish

    Over 50% of immigration into the UK is from countries outside the EU.

    The EU has no say whatsoever over those immigrants, it is entirely down to the UK authorities to allow it or end it.

    So why wasn’t that done as a first step if immigration is the problem?

    Also, Denmark an EU member introduced a fairly draconian measure allowing them to seize the assets of immigrants arriving at their border in order to pay for their keep.

    Obviously there were ways and means to enable the UK to deal with the situation without Brexit.

    Why wasn’t this done, or why wasn’t it at least explained by the Remain campaigners?

  • Anglo-Irish

    Ironically enough I think the language will work in Ireland’s favour.

    On numerous occasions whilst abroad I’ve witnessed people from different countries talking to each other using English as the common language.

    If nothing else the position of the USA in the world will help continue its use.

    Ireland will suffer to a degree as a result of Brexit but there are opportunities there as well.

    US companies and others that currently trade using English as their business language such as Japan, China etc and who require an EU base may well consider Ireland as an alternative.

  • hgreen


  • lizmcneill

    The Reamin plan was “keep doing more or less what we have been doing”. It’s the people who want to change everything that need to come up with a plan for how it will work.

  • Katyusha

    You still have to plan for the outcome of the vote, and what how you will proceed in the aftermath, regardless of what your aims for Brexit are. Thankfully the Bank of England had done some contingency planning to mitigate the impact on the financial markets, alas it was not enough to prevent the pound going into freefall. As for everyone else…

  • Skibo

    Ranty You are forgetting that over 50% of the immigration problem is from outside the EU. Westminster could have reduced this and I believe someone called Theresa May was in charge. She didn’t do a great job then so I don’t expect her to do a great job now.
    As for the WW3 comment, I think that refers back to the whole idea of setting up the EEC previously, to make sure another world war would not be set in Europe again.
    Using other countries to try out new weapons and keep the weapons industry going was not ruled out however, hence Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria.
    Actually “take our country back” just who are you taking it from?

  • Skibo

    It wasn’t done as the NHS would collapse if the immigrant doctors and nurses were removed. That and big business require a stream of cheap labour on zero hour contracts so they can lift them and drop them as and when required.
    Not sure England could keep its industry going without such immigrant labour.
    The construction industry, if not already, will be hitting a skills shortage. Locals do not like getting hands dirty and businesses will not pay to train apprentices.

  • Anglo-Irish


    And anyone who has any grasp on reality knows that.

    So why didn’t someone on the Remain side of the argument make that clear and make the Brexiteers explain how they intended to replace essential skills without major repercussions?

    The country needs immigration to keep the wheels turning and help pay for the pensions of an aging population.

    We ended up with the referendum being swayed by xenophobic fear mongering and this kind of well thought out logic.

  • billypilgrim1

    Agreed AI. English is the lingua franca of the world in 2016. Being the only English-speaking state in the EU is absolutely no harm at all for Ireland.

  • Old Mortality

    I agree entirely but it will also become more attractive to migrants from Eastern Europe who would previously have preferred the UK on the grounds of language since (sadly) English now seems to be the most widely spoken second language in that region. Migration could quickly become an issue for Ireland as well.

  • Skibo

    Either that or we have to start a breeding programme!

  • Anglo-Irish

    What are the stud fees, and what’s the age limit for sires?

    Once again I’ll have missed the boat!

  • Anglo-Irish

    Well providing there are jobs available that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, more people, more taxes for the state.

    I think that I’m correct in saying that Ireland is one of the only, if not the only country in Europe with less population now than it had in the early 1800’s.

    Obviously, some provision would need to be made to keep people whose only intent is to claim benefits to a minimum, but like the UK Ireland has a percentage of non EU immigrants who they have control over.

  • Old Mortality

    And you think Ireland is willing and able to cope with whatever level of immigration may be displaced in its direction due to Brexit?

  • Old Mortality

    Up to a point but if migrants start to penetrate, for example, the building trades and suppress wage growth, do you not think that it would provoke at least some native resentment?

  • Anglo-Irish

    Initially the freedom of movement referred specifically to workers.

    A citizen of any EU country had the right to move to any other EU country in order to work.

    People arriving without jobs and availing themselves of unemployment benefit wasn’t in the plan.

    A return to that system plus the imposition of a reasonable minimum wage in order to protect against exploitation of foreign workers to the detriment of natives would go a long way to help resolve the problem.