The chief executive of Ireland’s largest business organisation has said the UK Government’s Brexit policy puts party political concerns ahead of “rational economic considerations”.
Danny McCoy’s robust comments came in response to a Position Paper in which the UK Government outlined proposals appearing to rule-out a physical border with the Republic after Brexit.
The paper, published on 16 August, discusses a range of options for “seamless” trade with Ireland after the UK leaves the EU.
These include an “untested” new customs arrangement removing the need for the UK and the EU to introduce customs processes, a waiver of goods declarations, and a Common Transit Convention to simplify border crossing for goods in transit.
However, the proposals have been met with skepticism, with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney saying there still remained “significant unanswered questions” about the nature of the border after the UK has left the EU.
In his statement, Mr McCoy said the UK and Ireland were “a very long way from resolving the issues”, and pointed to the Conservative Government’s hard Brexit trajectory as a hindrance to solutions.
“Any new customs border on the island of Ireland, and between Ireland and Britain, presents major economic and logistical challenges and risks imposing significant additional costs on business,” he said. “There is no simple solution that will satisfy the needs of all parties to the negotiations. A detailed, costed impact assessment is needed to weigh up the options available and properly inform the debate.”
Mr McCoy also termed the UK’s recognition of the need for transitional arrangements as “belated”, and accused the leadership of putting party political concerns ahead of “rational economic considerations”.
“UK Brexit policy continues to be dictated by domestic party political concerns, not rational economic considerations. We all stand to lose out as a result. A fundamental rethink of the UK position is needed if we are to avoid a significant economic hit to key sectors of the economy.”
The Position Paper comes within weeks of a major cross-border Summit for Ireland’s convenience retail sector, which will be addressed by a number of major retailing figures, including Ibec CEO Danny McCoy.
Ireland’s Convenience Retailer Summit takes place on 6 September in Dublin’s Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road.