How will the Brexit vote affect Ireland?

Photo by Jeff Djevdet

Photo by Jeff Djevdet

On Thursday, June 23rd, the UK will be voting on a referendum that will determine whether or not it stays in the European Union. The vote, called Brexit (British exit) could a drastic effect on the political and financial stakes of many countries. But how will the Brexit vote affect Ireland? There are many schools of thought in this regard.

Stay or Go

As Britain’s population debates to remain in or leave the EU, opinion posts and campaigns are showing up all over the media, with input from economists, politicians, and concerned citizens. Those in favor of a “Leave” vote are citing the economy and immigration as main reasons.

On the other side however, campaigners are trying to show how leaving would be detrimental to the UK and the other countries in the EU. Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, for example, has been courting the almost 500,000 Irish residents of the UK. He is encouraging them to vote to remain in the EU, stating that it will be better for Ireland to have the strength of Britain in the EU.

Economic & Geographic Impact

Photo by Abi Begum

Photo by Abi Begum

Those in the business world have stressed the importance of the UK remaining in the EU to avoid the huge impact its departure could have on trade, jobs, and travel between the Ireland and the UK. Many employed in the UK are worried about how leaving the EU could change the working regulations in Britain- for example, it is likely that the need for work visas would increase.

Another argument touted by those promoting a “Remain” vote is the impact leaving could have on Northern Ireland and its relationship with the Republic of Ireland. UK Chancellor George Osborne has taken the position that leaving the EU would have a drastic impact on Northern Ireland’s economy, and its border with the Republic. If both are not part of the EU, it is very likely that the borders would become hardened, with border stops and customs checks becoming much more prevalent. This could severely impact the peace process.

Sign encouraging a Leave vote, photo by David Holt

Sign for a Leave vote, photo by David Holt

Possible Benefit

Most of the opinions and estimations have focused on the negative impact Brexit would have on Ireland. One possible benefit however is that if Britain were to leave the EU, Ireland would be the only native English-speaking country, which could draw in more foreign direct investments. However the other economic impacts are said to outweigh this point.

If Brexit is approved, it could have a very serious impact on the Irish economy and life for the Irish living in the UK. With so much at stake, it is easy to see why Ireland and the rest of the world will be watching the referendum vote very closely.

How do you think Ireland would fare if Britain votes to leave the EU? Let us know!

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