Brexit from the Irish Perspective

Surely the ink that has already been spilled analyzing the aftermath of the June 23rd, 2016 United Kingdom vote on exiting the European Union could fill at least one of the U.S. Great Lakes. I was traveling in Ireland on the day of the vote, where conversation reflected an Irish view of the vote, so I will spill a little more (virtual) ink on the subject.

The United Kingdom is the top origin for imports to Ireland, and the second export destination for Ireland’s goods and services. So the question of trade between E.U. countries and the U.K. is of great importance. Northern Ireland, as part of the U.K., will leave the E.U. Northern Ireland has an open border with Ireland, a fact that is now subject to change. Northern Ireland voters voted their preference to stay in the E.U., as did Scotland, also part of the U.K. Consideration has been expressed in favor of both Scotland and Northern Ireland remaining part of the E.U. when Britain exits. A breakup of the U.K. has been foreseen as inevitable once the U.K. split with the E.U. comes.

Ireland is both a member of the E.U. and one of the 19 countries of the Eurozone, users of the euro currency. Ireland, the U.K., and Malta, are the only English-speaking members of the E.U. The Irish Times has said that U.K.’s exit may result in English no longer remaining a major language of the E.U. An article by Pat Leahy in The Irish Times the day following the referendum stated, “it is clear that Britain and Europe both face a period of economic and political turmoil, and that Ireland will be deeply affected by this. It is hard to see how the ultimate effects will be anything other than overwhelmingly negative…. Of all the things that could happen to an Irish government short of the outbreak of war, this is pretty much up there with the worst of them.”

Belgium, Germany, and France are also top trading partners with Ireland. The Irish Times describes the E.U. as facing a crisis of legitimacy. The rise of populist movements threatens some member states’ democracies, likely to usher in “a period of deep economic recession.”

Leahy’s Irish Times article concludes pessimistically:

Some measure of preparation for today’s outcome has been going on in Dublin for some time. Ever since David Cameron announced that he would hold a referendum back in 2012, Irish officials and latterly ministers have regarded the prospect of a British exit from the E.U. as the worst thing that could happen [to] the country.

The dust has yet to settle, and talk of reversing the decision has been heard. Can the U.K. change its mind?

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