‘Britain facing a cliff in 2019 and it’s up to Ireland to save it from falling off’

Britain will come to a cliff edge when it comes to leaving the European Union by 2019, according to Sancroft’s Adrian Gahan, and it will be up to Ireland to stop it from falling off.

The Managing Director with Sancroft, a London-based corporate consultancy firm, spoke at the Bord Bia Meat Market Seminar in Kildare earlier today.

Gahan said it is unlikely that the two-year deadline, which will begin once the UK triggers Article 50, will be extended.

This, he said, is due to European elections and budgetary talks which are scheduled to take place in 2020.

That means Britain is facing a cliff edge and the agri-food sector needs to be careful.

He added that there are a number of specific risks both the Irish and Northern Irish agri-food sector will face in the aftermath of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Pictured were (L-),Jim O'Toole (Bord Bia),Dr. Carrie Ruxton (Meat Advisory Panel, UK) and Adrian Gahan (Sancroft, UK).Photo:michaelorourkephotography.ie
Pictured were (L-),Jim O’Toole (Bord Bia),Dr. Carrie Ruxton (Meat Advisory Panel, UK) and Adrian Gahan (Sancroft, UK).Photo:michaelorourkephotography.ie

Adding to the complicated process of Brexit, Gahan said there are a number of deals which the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May must strike in the near future.

Some of these need to negotiated when Article 50 is triggered, while others could take between five-to-10 years to process.

Seven deals the UK needs to strike:
  • Divorce settlement (Article 50)
  • Future UK/EU economic relationship
  • Interim UK/EU deal
  • WTO full membership
  • Bilateral trade deals
  • UK/EU agreement CFSP/J&HA
  • Deals with Scotland and Northern Ireland

The Managing Director also said that the UK leaving the EU also has the potential to upset the delicate balance which has been seen in previous decades.

“That is particularly concerning, both politically and economically for this island [of Ireland] and that is going to take time and care to sort out,” he said.

“It is worth noting, if the UK falls off the cliff in 2019, that means out of the Customs Union and out of the Single Market, WTO tariffs can be as high as 60-70% on some agri-commodities.”

The UK will be outside of the Single Markets Customs and there will be common external tariff applied at the Irish border.

He continued to say that it is in the Irish meat industry’s interest and in the interest of the island of Ireland for the UK to receive a transitional or covering deal to make sure it doesn’t fall off a cliff edge in 2019.

“Businesses need to make a case to government that if there is no covering deal jobs will be lost, investment will not happen and the economy will suffer.

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“We all need to make the case to the Irish Government, through whatever facility you have, that it is essential that Ireland pushes the EU and urges our friends in the UK to strike that interim deal to prevent the UK from falling off a cliff in 2019.

“There is a bargain to be struck and Ireland has a very important role in that,” he said.