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Minister Michael McGrath and British Ambassador Paul Johnston Address Matheson Brexit Webinar

AUTHORs: Brexit Advisory Group Date: 20/11/2020

Indicating considerable international interest among businesses seeking to gain insights into Ireland’s economy post Brexit, over 1,000 people from Ireland, Europe, the UK and the US registered for a Matheson webinar entitled  ‘The Irish Economy and Brexit’.

During a live poll which formed part of the webinar, 82% of those participating in the poll believed that Brexit will lead to increased FDI flows into Ireland.  They were more evenly divided on whether a trade deal will be concluded by the EU and the UK before 31 December, with 54% indicating that they thought a deal would be agreed, and 46% believing that there would be no deal.

The webinar featured contributions from the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Michael McGrath, TD; the British Ambassador to Ireland, Mr Paul Johnston; and Dr Frances Ruane, Chair of the National Competitiveness Council.  It was chaired by Michael Jackson, Managing Partner of Matheson.

Michael McGrath, TD, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform said: “As we fast approach the end of the transition period it is clear that our trading relationship with the United Kingdom will change.  We have done and will continue to do all we can to ensure that the economic fallout from this change is limited.  We are committed to our place at the heart of the European Union, while at the same protecting and strengthening the Ireland-UK relationship following Brexit.”

“Nevertheless, regardless of the outcome of the current negotiations on the future relationship, the UK will leave the Single Market and the Customs Union on 1 January 2021.  Brexit, in whatever form it takes, will have a significant impact on Ireland.  In recent months, the Irish Government has been ramping up its preparations for Brexit.  In September we published an updated Brexit Readiness Action Plan, while October’s Budget included measures to prepare for Brexit, building on successive Budgets since 2017.  My key message to business is: now is the time to make sure you are Brexit ready.”

The British Ambassador to Ireland, Mr Paul Johnston, said: “Ireland is a crucial economic partner for the UK, and always will be.  We share objectives of building back our economies post-Covid and focusing on a green recovery.  Ireland’s strengths as a fast-growing economy committed to innovation and development will ensure that it remains a priority market for UK companies.  And the UK will continue to welcome Irish investors to our market of 66m people.”

Michael Jackson, Managing Partner at Matheson said that Ireland’s commitment to its EU membership and its established position and reputation as a location of substance for companies seeking to access the EU markets will help offset some of the negative impacts of Brexit on the Irish economy.  “Businesses worldwide will continue to require certainty of access to EU markets, and Ireland has a track record, an educated and skilled workforce and a business culture which will continue to make it an attractive location in which to establish.  While the impact of Brexit on some sectors will be significant, we believe that Ireland will ultimately continue to be an economy in which indigenous Irish businesses will work and grow in tandem with the multinational sector”.

Mr Jackson said: “While the closest possible trading relationship with our nearest neighbour, the UK, is still the best outcome of the negotiations, since the Brexit referendum we have advised clients to prepare for all eventualities, including a no deal scenario. Amid the uncertainty and challenges for business arising from COVID-19 and the Brexit talks, we continue to advise our clients of the importance of remaining focused on their preparations for the changed EU-UK trade relationship which will occur in less than six weeks”.

Speaking at the event, Dr Frances Ruane, Chair of the National Competitiveness Council, gave her views in response to questions on the potential impacts of Brexit on the all-island economy; the issue of the level playing field within the Brexit negotiations to date; and the importance of Europe's Green Deal to Ireland. Dr Ruane commented that the Irish government and Irish business organisations have worked to support businesses in Ireland preparing for Brexit, and she emphasised that productivity and maintaining competitiveness will be vital.

Today’s webinar also demonstrated confidence among 85% of those who participated in the live poll that both Ireland and UK can benefit from enhanced co-operation at a governmental and industry level post Brexit.

Mr Jackson added that while Ireland remains a committed EU member and at the heart of Europe,  “Our relationship with the UK, also remains a vital one, with business, economic and cultural ties which stretch beyond a common language, time zone, and a comparable legal system.  At Matheson we are committed to playing our role in preserving and growing that relationship and continue to work very closely with industry bodies and our UK-based clients doing business in and from Ireland as they prepare for a post-Brexit environment.”


  • Matheson’s webinar, ‘The Irish Economy and Brexit’, forms part of the firm’s Knowledge Insights Series.
  • This webinar considered the impact of Brexit on the Irish economy, as well as the interaction of Brexit economic impacts with those arising from the pandemic.  The discussion also looked at the short and longer-term economic impacts on Ireland, together with their legal and business implications. 
  • A recording of the webinar is available on the Matheson Client Learning Hub, here. If you do not have access to the Matheson Client Learning Hub, please contact Matheson Knowledge Insights Team, here, with your request to access the Hub. For further Brexit Materials, visit our Matheson Brexit Forum, here.