After Brexit: will Ireland be next to exit?

The position of Ireland in the Brexit negotiations has been one of the three lead issues in the talks between David Davis, the Brexit Secretary and Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator. Ireland is the EU country most politically, historically, culturally and economically exposed to the Brexit outcome of any the 27 remaining members of the European Union. The EU have been mandated to speak exclusively for the Irish Government and its people in the talks. The Irish Government has decided to stick firmly with Team EU as negotiations begin. That position has been largely unchallenged to date.

In a new analysis, commissioned and published by Policy Exchange, the Irish Government position is examined and found to be wanting. This report argues that simply sitting on the side lines and allowing the EU to negotiate for Ireland is untenable. Former Irish Ambassador and senior Irish civil servant, Dr Ray Bassett, argues that in the event of the UK leaving the Customs Union and the Single Market, Ireland’s interests would be better served by opting out of formal membership of the EU, remaining in a customs union with the UK and negotiating free trade arrangements, on the lines of the EFTA countries, with the remaining members of the EU. The benefits of EU membership for Ireland in the past have been overwhelming but the organisation that Ireland joined and where it once thrived, is disappearing. “Irexit” has to be considered. It would be a dereliction of national duty not to consider all the options available in such challenging circumstances.

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