Former Irish diplomat, Ray Bassett, has written a 41-page analysis for the UK think-tank Policy Exchange, entitled: After Brexit, Will Ireland be Next to Exit?
The huge choice facing Ireland is whether, given the circumstances, the country can live with the likely post Brexit arrangements and so stay a full member of the European Union; or whether a radically different relationship with the EU is required, including the possibility of an Irish departure from formal membership, an Irexit. (p. 3).
The question to be raised is what price is Ireland willing to pay to stand in solidarity with the remaining 26 EU countries? If the Irish Government is willing to pay that price, will the Dáil, and possibly the population in a referendum, be equally willing to do so? (p. 3)
Bassett’s conclusion is that, due to economic and other ties:
Ireland should first prioritise its future relationship with Britain. It would mean starting direct Irish-British negotiations, setting down what both countries want – essentially a continuation of the present arrangements, both between the Republic and Northern Ireland and between the Republic and the United Kingdom. This would take the form of a comprehensive bilateral agreement. (p. 32)
if the EU cannot accommodate free Irish-British trade outside the EU customs union, then Ireland would have to negotiate a completely new set of arrangements with the EU, which could involve a formal withdrawal from membership (p. 33)
Bassett’s report is detailed and presents serious questions Ireland’s future status with respect to the EU. I don’t agree with Bassett’s conclusion, however the issues he raises certainly deserve serious deliberation.
Lecturer in Public Policy and Public Management at Ulster University. Researching economic inequality, public value creation, and societal wellbeing. On Twitter @natpolicy