The Union of Students in Ireland has said if Britain votes to leave the EU it will negatively affect new graduates and the Irish who recently emigrated to Britain. One in twelve Irish graduates emigrate to the UK for work and USI said while there will be pros and cons to Brexit for Ireland, there will be more negatives.
Ibec, the lobby group for Irish businesses, said a Brexit vote will cause years of uncertainty between Irish and UK enterprise while a new deal between Britain and the EU is being brokered. In January, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the border controls between Ireland and Northern Ireland could be brought back into effect if the UK votes to leave the EU. USI warned that border controls could reverse or alter the Common Trade Area agreement.
If the UK does decide to leave the EU, Ireland will become the only English native-speaking member state, which could make Ireland a more attractive location for foreign direct investment (FDI); but blocking the fluidity of movement between Ireland and the UK will slow down trade – which will affect the Irish economy and, in turn, more jobs in Ireland.
When Ireland and the UK joined the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1973, over 50% of Irish exports went to the UK. That figure has dropped to just over 16% today. Although over 40% of Irish exports go to the remainder of the EU, the UK remains Ireland’s single most important export market in Europe.
“In many ways, the Brexit vote is more important for the British than their general elections.” Kevin Donoghue, USI President, said. “If they decide to vote Tory or Labour and don’t like them in power, they can change their mind in five years. In the Brexit vote, they can’t change their mind. The Referendum on Thursday the 23rd June is possibly the most important Referendum for British Identity, which will undoubtedly have an impact on Irish identity. The UK is the most popular destination for Irish graduates to emigrate – more than eight per cent of Irish graduates emigrate to the UK for work, and the outcome of the Brexit/Bremain referendum will affect them, as well as the students who wish to study their undergraduates or postgraduates in the UK, or do the Erasmus exchange programme there.”
USI said new border controls between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland could potentially damage years of progress in peace, economic and social relations between Ireland and the UK, and Ibec has said the return of border controls could disrupt the commercial activity between the north and south of Ireland and undermine the all-island economy.