Matheson has filmed a Brexit interview with Enda Kenny TD, in Mr Kenny’s most in-depth interview since leaving the office of An Taoiseach.
You can view the full video by clicking here.
Filmed in New York, the interview raises the following key questions with Mr Kenny, and Matheson Managing Partner Michael Jackson:
- What is the likelihood of Brexit negotiations moving from divorce to trade talks by next March?
- What are the prospects of negotiations breaking down and a hard Brexit?
- What would be the consequences of a hard Brexit?
- Will Britain will get a transitional deal and how long could – or should - it be for?
- The impact for Ireland of the UK’s departure?
- What is the best way forward in respect of the Northern Ireland border?
- Is the EU being too tough on the UK?
In the interview Mr Kenny states that he does not think negotiations would be concluded by 2019, commenting that “Britain is expected to leave two years after it triggered its letter of intent to leave. And that’s by March of 2019. These discussions will not be concluded by 2019. Therefore, you need a transition period and in my view that transition period should be as long as is necessary to conclude an effective working agreement in the interests of everybody. It’s not sufficient that Britain can say we’ll look for the best deal for Britain. There are 27 other countries on the other side of the table who have worked with Britain for many years who also want an effective working outcome to this.”
Liz Grace, partner at Matheson asks Mr Kenny to describe what would be the consequences of a hard Brexit, if this were to happen, to which Mr Kenny replies “potentially catastrophic”, adding that the “transition period will last much longer than people imagine”. In the interview, Mr Kenny says it is important that the Brexit talks achieve progress as companies need to have clarity and certainty. “We are an island nation, we have to export up to 90% of what we produce and for American investment, or foreign direct investment, which Matheson deals with on a regular basis, stability and certainty is critical,” adds Mr Kenny. Commenting on the transition period and the possible length of an implementation period, Matheson’s Managing Partner, Michael Jackson says: “Regardless of what agreement is reached, a two year transition period will be too short. Two years is the average transition time for a single EU directive that has to be implemented by companies. We’re talking about something that’s much bigger and much more unprecedented here. I personally believe it’s going to take anything up to five years to properly transition.”
On Irish corporation tax, Mr Kenny states that the rate of Irish corporation tax is non-negotiable, and that Ireland has a protocol inserted into the European Union treaties stipulating that its tax rate is 12.5%. He stated that “nobody can tell us or order us to change the rate of corporate tax.” In terms of timing, Mr Kenny states that he hoped that there would be sufficient progress between now and year end, so that in the springtime a new round of discussions can be focused on the future relationship between Europe and the United Kingdom. “And I say that that’s very important because companies will start to make decisions in the spring about where they’re going to be in the next three to five years,” he adds.
Mr Jackson noted that: “The key thing clients are looking for is certainty and stability. There is so much uncertainty and so much instability in the world, they are attaching a real premium to places that can provide them with certainty of tax treatment, certainty of legal treatment and certainty of regulatory treatment and I think Ireland offers all of those. It has a long track-record of engaging with international companies and acting as a gateway, not just to the EU but to global markets generally and our clients see that and put great value in that.”
On the border issue, Mr Kenny says: “We will not stand, and the Taoiseach has outlined this now, for a situation of a return to a border of the past. Prime Minister Cameron accepted this, Prime Minister May accepts this but there needs to be a unique solution to an unprecedented problem. The situation that we have at the moment is that the border is only political. It is invisible. People cross that in their thousands every day to do business and go about their daily work. Products, manufacturing, business conducted north-south. That’s the way the people of the North and the people of the South want it to continue. The answer lies wherever the imagination of the British Government can be in bringing about a working effective, non-obstructive solution. That’s what we have at the moment; that’s what we’d like to continue.”
You can view the full video by clicking here.