The Case for the Republic of Ireland to Leave the EU

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.

  • IRF

    I wish we could re-run the referendum, but include voters in the RoI in the tally (on the basis that they are just as affected by Brexit as UK citizens, and also in the interests of the peace process). Hopefully the overwhelming Remain vote from RoI voters would tip the balance in favour of Remain, and put an end to this nonsense.

  • eamoncorbett

    I suppose Britain would co -fund large structural projects.
    Britain would also pay farm payments.
    Britain could be relied upon for a free trade deal .
    The currency would I presume be sterling or the old punt .
    Ireland would have to negotiate with the EU and the rest of the world any trade agreements going forward.
    A return to a free for all system in banking would be the norm.
    The Republic is a better country because of EU membership and it should stay that way.

  • Skibo

    It needs to be remembered that the Irish export to the UK is around 16% while the trade with the rest of the EU is around 34%.
    When Ireland entered the EU, the trade deficit was -340million. By 2003 the deficit was 34.651 Billion. The difference was they were looking past the UK and on to Europe, why would they revert back?

  • David Crookes

    Thanks a lot for the link, Nat.

    It sounds serious enough. This isn’t some oul boy from up the country shootin off his gub on a blog.

    Often in life there comes a point at which what we want to happen runs up against what needs to happen.

    And people have memories. The RoI’s experience of the EU has not been all big cream doughnuts.

  • runnymede

    Well the ROI should have got some idea how much the EU values them in the wake of the financial crisis i.e. not much at all.

  • runnymede

    Yes, but the US share is 26%, and the ROW share growing.

    After Brexit, a clear majority of Irish trade will be outside the EU customs union, rendering membership of the latter distinctly moot. The very slow growth of the Eurozone means the EU share will continue to dwindle over the next 20-30 years as well.

  • Jag


    ” Policy Exchange was set up in 2002 by a group including Nicholas Boles (director), Michael Gove (chairman) and Francis Maude”

    Michael Gove?

    Surprised to be able to type today, still laughing so hard at the Brits and their pathetic attempt to put fisheries (and beef) to the fore of Brexit negotiations as if they will provoke meaningful concessions from the likes of Ireland.


    Any compared to the financial services business that will migrate from London to Dublin, fish and beef are small fry. We’re going to be hosting trillion pound financial companies, so frankly whether Brits buy our grass-fed beef (best in the world) for peanuts is irrelevant.


  • the rich get richer

    The Eu’s present raison d’être is to Immigrate Cheap / Slave labour…………

    Not Politicians , Not high level civil servants , not the usual establishment suspects…..

    One law for them and another law for the Gombeens……

    You would have to Admire the British People for giving the EU the Two Fingers….

    The Irish bend over and the Irish Politicians guide the EU’s………….

  • mac tire

    Transparify has released a report on Think Tanks’ transparency in the UK. It
    compares think tanks’ disclosure levels across multiple institutions.

    Policy Exchange has scored among the lowest and is deemed ‘highly opaque’.

    Where does its money come from? Who is paying in? We won’t know because they refuse to tell us.

    Not to be trusted since they won’t give us any information.

  • George

    Yes but how much of that trade with the US and ROW is as a result of Ireland’s membership of the EU?

    As for the view that the EU share will “continue to dwindle”, this simply doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

    When Ireland joined the EEC in 1973, almost 55% of the total value of exports went to the UK followed by the Other 7 EEC members (21%), Rest of World (14%) and the US (10%).

    The UK now accounts for about (17%) of total exports; the Other EU26 (39%); the US (18%); Rest of World (26%).

    So while exports to UK have fallen, exports to Europe, US and ROW have increased substantially.

    As for Bassett’s views, he seems to argue that Ireland can strike a deal with the EU where we continue to adhere to the four freedoms (in other words stay within the internal market) and also strike a deal with the UK. But we will have to pay to remain in the internal market as Norway does but without any say on regulation.

    That’s before we even talk about the consequences of leaving the euro when all our substantial external debt is in this currency. Do we revert to a peg to sterling? Is that politically never mind economically feasible?

    I might add that the eurozone is now growing faster than the UK.

  • Skibo

    You can trade with most countries outside the EU while being part of the EU. The EU has free trade agreements with over fifty countries, now including Canada. trade agreements are not as simple as buying a house and look how difficult the lawyers make that!

  • Skibo

    Lets just hold our judgement on that analysis for a year till we see who is going to shaft who.
    As far as I see, history has shown us that the UK use other countries for their own benefit. The Empire will not come to your rescue this time unless it is in their interest. India in particular is fully aware of the price the UK can inflict for help.

  • jag race

    Membership of the EU and its predecessor organisations has allowed the ROI to wean itself off its historic dependency on the UK. It has replaced a servile relationship with one state with a collegiate one of with 27, and in the process has hugely prospered economically and culturally. It would be utter madness to give that up.

    Ray Bassett appears to have spent most of his career in the UK and Commonwealth. One has to wonder whether he has gone native.

  • John Connor

    What about membership of the eurozone? If Ireland is not in the EU, it can hardly be in the eurozone. Revert to the Irish pound? Join the sterling zone? None of the people Arguing that Ireland should leave seem to deal wth this issue.

  • dodrade99

    Kosovo and Montenegro use the Euro despite being outside the EU.

  • George

    This is because both had the Deutschmark as currency before the advent of the euro. Also, the ECB allows this to continue as both countries are candidate countries for EU membership and have to look to have their economy converge to eurozone norms.

    There is absolutely no guarantee that the ECB would condone a country leaving the eurozone continuing to use the euro.

  • Trasna

    A right wing think thank set up in part by Michael Grove. Enough said.

  • dodrade99

    Several countries also use the US Dollar. If Dublin wished to keep using the Euro the ECB couldn’t stop them, whether it would be wise to do so is another matter.

  • AstralWeeks666

    Indeed. Plus look at the “soldiarity” that the EU showed to Greece.

  • George

    Just like it couldn’t stop Zimbabwe but Ireland would have to have euro reserves of its own to sustain such a model. For example, Montenegro’s reserves were in Deutschmarks and that is how it managed to move to the euro. Ireland has around 3.4 billion in foreign exchange reserves. It’s total spending in 2015 was around 55 billion. Not feasible.

  • runnymede

    You are looking backward, I am looking forward.

    The rump EU is likely to grow at maybe 1-1.5% per year over the next 20 years, with the risks skewed to the bottom of that range. The rest of the world is likely to grow at 2.5-3.5% per year. These relative growth rates will mean the ROW will form an increasingly large part of Ireland’s trade.

    This has already been happening for 10-15 years for both Ireland and the UK. It would take an economic earthquake to reverse the trend now. In 20 years, Ireland’s trade with the rump EU might be as low as 25-30% of the total. Why would you want to be in a customs union with a group of countries accounting for such a low share? That is the share the US has in Ireland’s trade now – no-one is suggesting joining the US I think…

  • runnymede

    Ireland would have to rejoin the UK first…

  • David Crookes

    You’re not allowed to change your outlook.

  • Skibo

    I think you are missing a vitally important point. The rest of the world is growing because they are manufacturing and producing goods. Their labour rates will be minute to ours. How do we compete with that, combined with the issue of the distance to travel?
    Why would you turn your back in a market on your back door to go chasing markets across the world with countries that you don’t have trade agreements with?

  • Conchúr

    That increasing trade with ROW is a direct result of being party to EU trade agreements.

  • runnymede

    No it isn’t, sorry.

  • runnymede

    That seems an unlikely characterisation of the large and growing trade of Ireland with the US. Except perhaps the distance bit.

  • Reading this, and the report, to say that for Ireland Brexit is a bad thing is probably the greatest understatement in Irish current affairs so far this year, and for a while

  • George

    “You are looking backward, I am looking forward.”

    Not true. You stated that the EU share will “continue to dwindle”. I pointed out that you are wrong. The trade has continued to grow.

    When you say rump EU I take it you mean the EU 27. Is that your attempt at fog in channel, continent cut off humour?

    “This has already been happening for 10-15 years for both Ireland and the UK.”

    You do realise that Ireland and the UK’s growth rate has been while we were in the EU?

    Now the UK is leaving its economy is expected to grow at half of the rate of Germany in the next couple of years. In fact every country in the eurozone is expected to grow faster than the UK.

    Our trade with the UK is dropping and will continue to drop, especially after Brexit. We’ll have to make cheddar cheese and biscuits for someone else or do something higher up the food chain. By contrast, there is no evidence that our exports to the EU will decline.

    Good luck with Brexit….

  • Get The Grade Get The Grade

    How does that work? Invite the French and Germans into the tally too and ensure a landslide!

  • Old Mortality

    ‘We’re going to be hosting trillion pound financial companies…’
    You already do and maybe there will be a few more but it will still be back office stuff. The masters of the universe would not find Dublin very congenial for more than a weekend.

  • Old Mortality

    The EU will be a much less agreeable club for Ireland to belong to once the UK leaves. Whether that is enough to make leaving an attractive option is difficult to say but the frenetic activity in Ireland in response to Brexit suggests a high degree of anxiety.
    As a net contributor, it will face substantially higher budget contributions unless that budget is cut which would probably result in lower farm subsidies.
    It’s corporate tax arrangements are likely to come under stronger threat without a powerful ally.
    As the only English-speaking country left in the EU, it may well become the destination of choice for large numbers of East Europeans who would otherwise have entered the UK because English it the only foreign language they have ever learned or want to learn.

  • runnymede

    It wouldn’t be wise at all. Unilaterally using another country’s currency is fine for micro states or places with very simple economies but is crazy for a sophisticated economy with a significant financial sector.

  • Skibo

    What you fail to recognise that the trade you are referring to happens while Ireland is inside the EU, so why would they want to leave?
    As for looking forward, you are looking past the time it takes to form trade agreements. These can take in the region of seven years. All that time you will be trading on the open market with WTO tariffs.

  • Panama with a much bigger financial sector seems to do ok with the US dollar

  • David Crookes

    Is that the mathematician?

  • the rich get richer

    The EU is the Empire now………..

    Just another Empire with the same old results…………

  • Skibo

    At least with this empire we won’t have to go to war to get out of it.
    It is terrible all the legislation that the EU put in place to protect workers rights. Bad EU, bad EU!

  • the rich get richer

    Has anybody left yet without getting a good going over……….

    What is remarkable is how this New Empire is considered so benevolent……..especially when it is being run for the benefit of bankers and big Business……those well known carers of the People….

    The EU’s Public relations learned a lot from other previous German propaganda machines ……..

  • Skibo

    TRGR the interesting thing is alot of the legislation brought in by the Eu was with the agreement of the UK.
    I do not know of many countries that pander to the rich bankers and big business any more than the British Government does. Ever since the world wars the divide between the richest and the poorest in the UK has increased. is that the fault of the EU also?
    This is just another ploy to blame the Germans for everything. The French are just as powerful in moulding the EU and with the UK gone that process will be accelerated.


    I think Bassett is on the right track. Britain and Ireland’s economic interests dovetail, both have strong cultural and language links and both have been badly treated by the EU (especially Ireland). Both countries have a lot to gain from closer co-operation outside the EU.


    Absolutely — the EU’s treatment of Ireland is shameful and has turned Ireland once again into a country whose young people are forced to emigrate.


    The Brits have got every reason to be generous. I want to see a post-Brexit Britain that puts money into the ‘Celtic Fringe’ (Wales, Scotland, Ireland), restores balance to the UK economy (which at the moment is too heavily dominated by London, South-East England and the financial sector). The process of ‘re-balancing’ will not be easy and will take time but Ireland, for one, stands to gain from this. I also think the UK has both a moral duty and an economic interest in rescuing the Republic from the Euro, the ECB and EU austerity policies. Nobody in Brtain wants to see Ireland go the same way as Greece.


    ‘Collegiate’ sounds good but being forced to follow ECB dictates shows which foot the boot is on. Britain will need Ireland’s produce, light industry and Internet know-how after Brexit. Ireland will be able to draw on British R&D as the UK looks for university tie-ups to replace those lost with those in the EU. I see no reason why Britain and the UK could not pull off joint trade deals with the rest of the world, allowing Eire to piggy-back into the massive US market on great terms.

  • Skibo

    For a country to be rescued, there are two criteria:
    1) The country must be in trouble.
    2) The country must want to be rescued.
    The problem with your analysis is that neither point is true.
    Ireland has the best growth in the whole of the EU.
    She did not grow under UK rule previously so why would now be any different.
    I believe the support for the EU and the Euro is around 80%, hardly the sign of a country requiring rescuing.
    As for your analysis that the Brits are going to restore the ballance from London and the South East to the rest of the UK, please do not be holding your breath. At the moment, Scotland and Wales are trying to come up with a joint approach to Brexit as the Government are ignoring them.

  • John Collins

    Andy Burnham, the current Mayor of Liverpool, gave a long interview to Newsnight, earlier this week, complaining that the current Government are clearly reneging on promises made to develop faster railway links to the North of England.

  • Skibo

    John, what is the connection with my post?
    Are you saying that the North of England may now be suggesting a further breakdown of the Union with regions of England demanding devolution?

  • John Collins

    Well Skibo, who knows. The level of disaffection with London was shown in the huge vote for brexit in areas in the periphery of England, as opposed to the result in and around London, which was all about staying. My point also refers to the fact that the main policy makers in London could not give two flying ‘ducks’ about areas remote from the capital in their own country, so somebody would be mad to think they would have much concern for any part of this island.

  • Skibo

    I agree John. I believe the people on the periphery of the UK feel they were left out of the boom that happened around London and the South East. They blamed Jonny foreigner and the EU when really it was Westminster.
    I don’t believe the normal English man realises what leaving the EU will affect.
    In the end if the North of England and Cornwall is the periphery, we are the outer Hebrides. If Westminster thinks we and the land border will be an issue for the negotiations, we will be sacrificed.
    I wonder how Gibraltar feels about the whole thing?
    Will leaving the EU have much effect on the Channel Islands?