Editorial: Brexit, a SWOT analysis
No matter what form of Brexit happens, the Europe of our shared history will still exist, with Britain at the heart of it. Ireland will too, in potentially an even more pivotal position than at any time in its previous history in terms of its potential influence. And so will the rest of the world, in an increasingly global economy, and financial services ‘ecosystem’, which will transcend the European Union, the US, and all other jurisdictions, large and small.
As has been well chronicled, Ireland did not seek that pivotal position, it was thrust upon it by fate – the difficulties arising have also been well chronicled, perhaps too well; now is the time to address the opportunities, and indeed obligations that arise.

The opportunity that arises springs from the influence, and the promised unique trading platform that membership of the EU27 will present for a Common Law, English speaking, trading jurisdiction, with competitive tax rates, competitive business regulations, and an open welcoming culture.

That platform first crystallised in the early 1970s, when Ireland and the United Kingdom joined the European union, of foot of an acceptance by de Gaulle that these islands also had a right to share in an historic European destiny, famously sketched out by his erstwhile ally, Churchill, in the wake of World War II.

Both countries became a platform, most notably for the United States, in Europe, for trade, and, very significantly, in finance, asset management and financial services.

Now, with Brexit, Ireland remains standing alone as that platform in Europe – a platform that will continue to exist, not just for American enterprises, but for all who wish to gain access to a EU financial services market that, for the medium term at least, will remain threatened by the exigencies of trade wars, and competition at national level for trading rights in global markets.

The opportunities are vast for Ireland to provide, not just a financial services platform for the United States into an EU market of over 400 million affluent people, but also a platform for Britain itself and its businesses. (In Finance Dublin, we chronicle these stories on a monthly basis, see for example our story in this issue on Newcastle-headquartered North PI, a leading global player in marine insurance).

That Irish platform, between the United States and Europe in all areas of asset management, capital markets and banking, offering equivalence treatment of standards in exchanges, FS regulation, will now exist for UK businesses as a route into the EU27. In nurturing it, a vast opportunity exists.

It may well be a vast opportunity markets wise, but there is a moral imperative there too. Britain and the United States have repeatedly shown their friendship with the Republic in the past. Doing what’s right happily, for Ireland, will also coincide with doing what’s right in planning its post-Brexit path, in conjunction with its 27 EU partners.

The future lies in remaining consistent with the open standards that Ireland has pursued in its international trading relations since the early 1970s, referred to above.

In our annual conference, FCSDublin, 2019 on October 15-16th next we will be discussing these themes, in the company of two of the most significant figures in this exciting Irish, American, European and British story – the Chairman of the SEC, Jay Clayton, and the father of the House of Commons, whose respected position in that role has seen him mentioned in recent despatches as a potential next Prime Minister, as the United Kingdom negotiates its European future.
This article appeared in the August 2019 edition.