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The Brexit Effect

18 Apr 2019

Josh Craig

It would be unwise to try and sum up a Brexit conference in one sentence but Dr. Vincent Power of A&L Goodbody, speaking at the InterTradeIreland event ‘Practical Advice & Support for Brexit’ in Belfast on 16th April offered a gem:

“We don’t know the destination and we hardly know the journey, but it is important to plan”.

The event held at Titanic Belfast was attended by business leaders from across Ireland and offered much more than excellent speakers offering specialist insights, opting to focus more on one-to-one clinics with a range of experts from areas viewed as particularly vulnerable to the uncertainty: Customs, Logistics, Tax, Supply-Chain, Data and employment.

The overall tone was of positivity but with serious reflection on the possible outcomes for the UK’s ever-changing leave date from the EU. The event’s MC, John Campbell of the BBC encouraged businesses not to waste the time afforded to them by the 31st October extension date and that the risk of no-deal has not gone away despite it looking less likely.

Dr. Andrew McCormick, Director General of International Relations for the NI Executive Office shed light on Northern Ireland’s unique status as 75% of private sector employment in Northern Ireland is in SME’s. It is particularly important that these business leaders attend events like these and truly engage with the support and advice on offer throughout Ireland.

Director General of the Border Delivery Group, Karen Wheeler, has essentially been assigned to ensure our borders ‘work’ when we leave the EU. Highlighting the difficulties posed by Northern Ireland’s complex political landscape, she explained that there are in fact multiple borders in Northern Ireland as the management of the country’s Ports and Airports will require just as much consideration as the land border. Looking to the positive side of things, Karen made sure to state that one good thing about a no-deal scenario, despite being a worst case scenario, is that we can largely understand it and prepare for it.

The final speaker of the morning was Dr. Vincent Power, Parnter of A&L Goodbody over EU, competition and procurement. He made a point of dispelling some common myths surrounding the Brexit process stating that the question of whether we will have a hard or soft Brexit is simply the wrong question to ask; it will be a spectrum Brexit, there isn’t a binary choice of hard or soft. Instead it’s a spectrum of choices and the real question is where your business will fall on that spectrum. Airing on the side of positivity again, Dr. Power believes the chances are that businesses are too distracted by Brexit and that life goes on; business decisions are being delayed when they really shouldn’t be.

Dr. Power finished as he began with a summary of how things may unfold for the UK in that we may have:

“A Saville Row deal; very specific, very British and very expensive”

Josh Craig is a Consultant with Brightwater’s Accountancy division and recruits part-qualified accountancy and finance professionals for permanent roles. He can be reached at J.Craig@brightwaterni.com.