Belfast Telegraph

AIB chairman says Republic risks 'car crash' Brexit if no deal reached

Michel Barnier is shown the cross-border road on the N53 road between Co Louth and the A37 road in Co Armagh
Michel Barnier is shown the cross-border road on the N53 road between Co Louth and the A37 road in Co Armagh

By Staff Reporters

There will be no flurry of companies relocating to Ireland in the wake of Brexit, the chairman of First Trust parent Allied Irish Bank has said. Richard Pym told the MacGill Summer School that Frankfurt and Paris, rather than Dublin, are best placed to take advantage of the decision by the UK to leave the European Union.

Speaking at the five-day event in Glenties, Co Donegal, Mr Pym said there was the real prospect of the Republic ending up with a "car crash Brexit".

He said such a scenario would involve customs checks on the border with Northern Ireland and Irish trucks being forced to queue for two days at Dover.

"Remember the British Prime Minister said 'no deal is better than a bad deal', which is odd as surely 'no deal' must be the 'worst deal'," Mr Pym said.

"Whilst there are a few grown-ups in the British Cabinet like (Chancellor) Philip Hammond, there are also those seemingly determined to continue adolescence beyond previous age boundaries, and for whom 'no deal' would be victory.

"These are the people who dream of creating a new British-led world trade order described as Empire 2.0," he added.

In relation to investment, Mr Pym said even the arrival of a few thousand jobs to the Republic would have a major impact.

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But he warned against the idea that Ireland will be the main benefactor of a flight of jobs from the UK.

"Do not expect vast numbers of evacuees to arrive in Dublin, as Frankfurt and Paris will be the main job winners," Mr Pym said.

"But even a few thousand highly-paid jobs arriving will generate knock-on economic activity. The one downside is that incoming firms will poach their senior staff from the large domestic firms and as they are not subject to the same pay constraints this will weaken our main national financial institutions.

"Where Ireland could win serious amounts of new business activity is from inward overseas investment displaced from the UK. Britain will be a less attractive business location for firms seeking access to the EU and if you want an English-style legal system and language, then Ireland must be your destination of choice."

It came as the City of London's special envoy to the EU warned that it shouldn't measure its success in the Brexit negotiations in how much it can diminish the UK financial hub.

Jeremy Browne said Brexit risked leaving Europe without a global financial centre. He told the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin on Tuesday that the City is a pan-European asset.

"We encourage the EU side in any negotiations not to think of London as an advantage held by the people on the other side of the table," he said. "In other words, the EU shouldn't measure its success in the negotiations by the degree to which it succeeds in diminishing the City."

Belfast Telegraph