On September 20th, 1988, nine Irish students at the College of Europe took their places in Bruges town hall. We were waiting for Margaret Thatcher to give the opening address for our coming academic year.
What West Point is to the US military, the College of Europe is to the EU institutions. It is the academic entry point for the European Commission, European Court of Justice, European Central Bank and the various other orbital institutions that make up the European project. Security was tight. The IRA were active on the continent. In August, the IRA had killed three British soldiers in the Netherlands. A few months previously we had the Gibraltar killings. Tensions were high. As was normal at the time, the Irish students, all of us only 21, were singled out for special but not particularly invasive checks.
As Mrs Thatcher got up to speak, dressed – not accidentally – in the bright blue of the European flag, few people expected that she would use this opportunity to so completely set out the British position with respect to relations with the European Union. That afternoon, the flame for Brexit was lit. That speech signalled the beginning of a 30-year civil war within the Conservative Party over Europe, an internecine struggle that ironically took as its first major casualty the head of Mrs Thatcher herself less than four years later. How Roman.
Listening to the speech again, it is surprising how moderate it actually was. Thatcher outlined that national differences, culture, language and varying stages of economic development rendered moves towards a United States of Europe little more than a federalist dream. This still seems sensible. She spoke of common values, economic and financial ties, shared history and all the good stuff that gelled the EU together and to Britain. There was no mention of the UK ever leaving the EU, Brexit or any real collision between London and Brussels. She simply made the point that hyperintegration was not on the cards and not in the UK’s or the EU’s interest.
When listened to from the vantage point of today it all seems pretty mild stuff. But the speech did one thing: it signalled that the UK prime minister was listening to the anti-EU faction of the Tory party. As a result, it gave permission for the English nationalist wing of the Tory party to become more brazen and vituperative. Having lived in the UK in the 1990s, I saw this strain engulf John Major and enmesh the Tories in schism after schism as the broad Conservative church splintered into competing anti-EU sects, each with its own fundamentalist catechism. In the end the jihadis won, and the question now is whether Brexit jihadism will deliver their nihilistic caliphate under Boris Johnson’s rallying banner of “F**k business”?
This what a hard Brexit means. It means “F**k business”.
“F**k business” had a nice ring to it, don’t you think? It’s definitive like “MAGA”. To come out of the mouth of a senior Conservative, not an ageing Corbynista with an adolescent Che Guevara complex, is quite something. It reveals what the Tory civil war has delivered: a narrow-gauge, sovereignty-obsessed cabal that is prepared to do anything, to sacrifice any business and any manufacturing plant on the altar of ideological purity.
And this madness is Ireland’s opportunity.
Ireland’s economic pitch
What else was going on when the Tories were driving Britain towards a cliff edge? In the 30 years since the Bruges speech, as Britain was becoming more intolerant, obsessive and relatively poorer, Ireland was becoming more tolerant, flexible and relatively much richer. The Irish economy grew at multiples of the UK economy, leaving it miles behind us on almost every economic and social metric. We are open to economics, trade, commerce and talent and have become a thoroughly modern place to live and do business.
In 1988, we were unambiguously among the poorest places in the EU; today six of the EU’s poorest regions are in the UK, while most of Ireland has powered up to the top 10 of the EU’s wealthiest regions.
If Britain chooses the “F**k business” route, guided either by the jihadi right or the Guevara left, so be it. The commercial opportunity presented to a mercantile Ireland by an atavistic England is incalculable in terms of capital, talent and prosperity. Both “F**k business” and Corbyn’s “nationalise-the-nice-bits” objectives are acts of reckless aggression against commerce.
In either outcome, Ireland looks like a beacon of common sense for capital and talent. Capital is like water: it flows via the path of least resistance. In a globalised world, the UK and Ireland are seen as substitutes not compliments. If the British decide on acts of aggression against international capital, all we have to do is wait. Don’t panic and allow them to hang themselves. Ultimately, as it’s a foreign jurisdiction anyway, there’s nothing we can do. We can only sit back and watch the capital flow in – and that is what is likely to happen.
We need to sort out our own housing mess, but it is in our gift to do so. However, the gift of Brexit could be one that just keeps giving. It is unfashionable to say so, but economically Brexit will be a huge positive for us both in terms of the long-term innovative structure of the economy and as regards Ireland as a global brand. In a world of capitalism with less hard capital, brand is more important than brawn. My hunch is that ultimately a deal will be cobbled together between the EU and the UK, but the long term damage to British commerce will be unquantifiable as the sensible middle ground is constantly harangued by the reckless right and the reckless left.
On that September afternoon, Mrs Thatcher opened her speech by thanking the local Bruges emergency services for saving hundreds of British citizens from the tragic sinking of the British ferry in Zeebrugge the year before. The name of that ship was the Herald of Free Enterprise.
Economically, the real story is how the UK went from the herald of free enterprise to “F**k business” in one generation.
That’s if it even happens- I have my doubts.
Hiding within all that is a warning. It is in all our interests for that prosperity to be shared. As many people in Ireland as possible need to see benefits from this. That means massive public spending to address the housing and health care crises. And yes, that means more taxes at least in the short term, but not doing it will hurt far harder than a slightly higher tax bill – as the British are about to learn.
I hadn’t heard of Johnson’s quote, but it seems to have shocked an EU diplomat, who reported it. David wrote six years ago of meeting Johnson on the ski slopes and described him as committed to the City of London. He was educated at the European School in Brussels and I was puzzled that he came out in favour of leaving the EU before the referendum. Hitchens was also surprised: “As for Al ‘Boris’ Johnson, I am one of many who began by seeing him as an active ally in the struggle for independence, only to be seized by a… Read more »
This is where Fine Gael’s policy of driving up house prices comes home to roost. After ignoring all projections of population growth in Dublin and focusing on helping out the banks we are left with a dysfunctional housing market.
London banks will look at the cost of housing staff in Dublin and say f**k Ireland.
A pity the govt wouldn’t use it as an opportunity to develop an IFSC in Limerick, but strategic decisions are beyond the wit of our ex-health & ex-housing ministers.
What a snow job of an article. Listen to the following video about how a top guy in banking notified the central bank in Ireland of the dodgy practices in his bank and how the central bank have destroyed him since. That’s what Boris means when he says fuck business. He is playing to the sentiments of people who want to put sociery first!
What’s all the nonsense about Ireland being a talent beacon;
Great to read some unalloyed Green Jersey ‘positive thinking’ on all this Brexit stuff!
‘acts of aggression against international capital’
Down with that kind of thing!
Kevin tells us, Our prosperity = massive public spending = more taxes. David is a big fan of more tax transfers. I dont mind paying tax, but only when there is accountability. RTE are the host of all discussion on our resources. They never tell us the breakdown of the 150bn national debt since 2008. They are contracted to represent ALL the stakeholders but dont. They did a good programme on how hospital consultants are abusing the Irish sick but that now seems to be the end of that. Transfers. People working 40hrs are taxed more because select citizens want… Read more »
It’s our chance to finally cut ties with our old rulers. In fact, we should have been much less reliant on UK in the past already. And no, Dublin will not and cannot become the financial centre in lieu of London. It should just become more of itself.
In the anti Brexit diatribe above delivered by a central banker aficionado there is no mention of a democratic vote. The EU dislikes democracy unless it agrees with statist policies announce by the ruling class and enforced by the the bureaucracy. The people are not allowed to express their preferences. The areas of Britain that suffered under the governance of the EU are the same areas that voted for Brexit. They do not like what they got and want out. Lack of jobs leads to a F*** business attitude. That was the resulting experience for many after 30 years of… Read more »
More insolent ‘acts of aggression against international capital’ from the delusional Brexiteer Brits! When will they learn? What is WRONG with them!!!! ? ‘
Bosses accuse Michael Gove of ‘talking down’ big business…FTSE chiefs ‘complacent’ and ‘probably wrong’, says environment secretary’
‘Mr Gove’s comments, revealed in a new book, reflect a view among prominent Eurosceptics that corporate Britain is issuing siren warnings about Brexit. Boris Johnson, former foreign secretary, recently said of companies cautioning about the consequences of leaving the EU: “Fuck business.”’
Soon we will all be Teslard
”Just like Enron was emblematic of the fraud and stock market mania that defined the tech bubble, Tesla is the poster-child for the entire U.S. economic and financial system. Like Enron and Tesla, the U.S. is defined by debt, fraud, corruption, greed, entitlement and a blatant disregard for humanity.”
https://www.dollarcollapse.com/bottom-half-bolsters-economy-depleting-savings/ ”When the inevitable recession hits, the debt remains while income falls, pushing millions of people over the edge. This happened in 2008 with mortgages and will soon happen with the mini-bubbles of auto, credit card and student loans. At which point the rich will re-deploy all the cash they’ve accumulated to buy up the assets the rest will have to sell at deep discounts. This kind of “harvesting” sounds more like pre-revolution France than the modern society outlined in economics textbooks. Which means the eventual reaction of the harvested might not fit the relatively docile patterns of the recent… Read more »
Although I haven’t commented much lately, I have been ‘lurking, reading the extraordinarily insightful debate here. This is an IMPORTANT article. I’m surprised (and a little disappointed) that the ‘comment community’ on this website haven’t responded with more vigour. No matter! Whilst faint-hearts like Fintan O’Toole may be in the mood for Ireland Inc to offer the UK a ‘precious gift’ of more time to ‘negotiate’ their way back from the cliff-edge of challenging the EU, David McWilliams is in no mood to placate such insolent dissent. He’s right, isn’t he? Isn’t it time Ireland Inc put da Brits (&… Read more »
Phil Hogan is spot on, as is David McWilliams. It’s time for Ireland Inc-EU to bully Trump on trade, show him who’s boss. And it’s time to pull the plug on da Brits: Ground all their flights, stop sending them Irish beef & dairy and prepare for the mass refugee crisis when the UK economy COLLAPSES! Why is Juncker even dignifying that eejit Donald Trump with a visit to Washington? Hasn’t he more important things to be doing. I hope the stress of it all doesn’t trigger another ‘sciatica episode’ which tasteless detractors will claim is evidence of drunkeness. Phil… Read more »
To any of ye thinking you can critique Globalist economist David McWilliams rebuke of Boris Johnson for disrespectful ‘acts of aggression against international Capital’ for daring to mock the latest version of Brexit Project Fear from Airbus, Siemens & the rest: Think again! Some might think there are some questionable assumptions underlying this article. Let’s debunk any such assumptions calmly. 1] That a disruptive Brexit will necessarily damage the UK without commensurate damage to the EU in general & Ireland in particular. In view of this, outlandish and bizarre claims/threats to ground planes seems slightly….hysterical? Nonsense! That won’t happen, the… Read more »
#BrexitIsCancelled! *sigh*…..This site used to be great fun, now it’s just SAD! Cat got your tongues? Never mind. I’ll go back to lurking and smirking at ye all again but I’ll leave this and return to say ‘told ya so!’ once the ‘decision’ is ‘explained’ to The Great Unwashed aka: UK Voters. Reality Check for all ye lot panicking that Brexit might actually happen. Put the Xanax away. It won’t be happening. THIS IS NOT A DRILL! Theresa has decided: BREXIT IS CANCELLED. Just like Kanye is. Here’s a brief summary of how we’ve arrived at this splendid ‘we are… Read more »
Dublin and Ireland are the most expensive city and country in the eurozone. Think how totally inappropriate euro interest rates are for our insane housing market.The Dublin three house next door recently sold for 600k,in 1978 it sold for 14k! Allowing for the euro currency ? that is a 43 times increase. Isle of Man and channel Islands do very well out of the EU.As do the eea nations. Hogan is a victim of Brussels syndrome, as is every Ff,labour,Fg lackey. Irish civil service gambled that uk would join the euro,how wrong they were .Can the Irish economy sustain the… Read more »
‘In the 30 years since the Bruges speech, as Britain was becoming more intolerant, obsessive and relatively poorer, Ireland was becoming more tolerant, flexible and relatively much richer. The Irish economy grew at multiples of the UK economy, leaving it miles behind us on almost every economic and social metric.’
‘Irish feminists target ‘women in the home’ clause in constitution
Politicians and activists say the sexist and archaic language undermines women’
‘In the 30 years since the Bruges speech, as Britain was becoming more intolerant, obsessive and relatively poorer, Ireland was becoming more tolerant, flexible and relatively much richer. The Irish economy grew at multiples of the UK economy, leaving it miles behind us on almost every economic and social metric.’ David McWillaims Reality check: ‘The church brutalised Ireland. People have a right to protest against the pope’s visit. Ireland’s political leaders are calling protests against Pope Francis’s visit ‘petty’. Have they forgotten the decades of abuse? The separation of church and state in Ireland is far from complete. For example,… Read more »
‘Irish economy grew at multiples of the UK economy, leaving it miles behind us on almost every economic and social metric.’ David McWilliams Reality check: ‘modified gross national income (GNI), pronounced GNI..designed to filter out the statistical noise associated with multinationals or, as the CSO puts it, remove the effects of globalisation. In other words, it strips out the profits of redomiciled companies, and better accounts for the relocation of intellectual property and aircraft leasing assets here. The new measure shrinks the size of the economy here by a third from €275 billion in GDP terms to just under €190… Read more »
‘In the 30 years since the Bruges speech, as Britain was becoming more intolerant, obsessive… Ireland was becoming more tolerant’ David McWillaims Reality check: ‘[Bono]’s a great guy. I stay at his castle in Dublin, because Ireland and Scotland are so racist it’s frightening. He said, ‘Trying, Quincy, to assimilate, but it’s not coming easy.’ So I stay in his castle.” independent.ie/entertainment/music/music-news/music-producer-quincy-jones-says-ireland-is-so-racist-its-frightening-36546295.html #DalkeyIsNotDublin ‘Irish attitudes to immigration worse than European average, ESRI finds It found that support for Muslim and Roma immigrants is lower than the average for 10 other EU countries.’ “Ireland is an outlier in the Western world… Read more »
‘In the 30 years since the Bruges speech, as Britain was becoming more intolerant, obsessive and relatively poorer, Ireland was becoming more tolerant, flexible and relatively much richer. The Irish economy grew at multiples of the UK economy, leaving it miles behind us on almost every economic and social metric.’ David McWillaims Reality check: ‘Fear of Brexit has undoubtedly prompted a sharp increase in negative feelings towards the neighbours. What’s more worrying is that this mood is being encouraged by Leo Varadkar’s Government, which is fully backing Europe’s determination to punish the Brits for daring to leave the EU. The… Read more »
Lies, damned lies and statistics. All Fake news. Nobody can tell you what the economy is actually doing. Add in the phony inflation and use real inflation and one may conclude the economy is not actually growing at all as the debt load of individuals, corporations and governments steadily increase. What do you conclude from your personal individual earning and spending?
Fascinating to observe David’s ‘journey’ to peace & reconciliation with the EUro-pean Union after the tempests of his ‘doubting Thomas’ phase the World Financial Crisis. Some of us will recall articles that posited exit from the EUro as Ireland’s salvation. Now all that stuff is in the shredder. Confession. Absolution. A sinner redeemed. When I first began reading his analyses prior to those tempetuous Troika years, he was a firm believer in the Holy Trinity of the EU, the US & the Euro. Then he had his wilderness years but now? God loves nothing more than a sinner who repents… Read more »
Europe caves to Trump proposal of zero tariff, zero subsidy and zero and zero non budgetary obstruction. Meanwhile the government interference in all markets continues such that there is no longer a free market anywhere. Fake news continues to not report , misreport or just plain lie. Posted at http://www.lemetropolecafe.com Q exposes the BS media, and why it matters to investors Good Thursday Morning, We start our Precious Metals Option Expiration Day with the usual decline in price with Gold down $3.80 at $1,237.20 with the usual close to the low price during the Londonian Bop at $1,235.80. Silver is… Read more »
Tony/Andy The EU are the only ones making tariff threats. Our model or the highway, they say. Lots of lovely social targets with no methods. Lots of ramped up national debt for our children. Burgers for our vulture culture today that our children will pay for some Tuesday in the future. RTE and the unions are in control of our resources for the last 40 yrs. RTE are the host of all discussion on our resources. The role that RTE have played in the decline of our health system is clear for all to see. The lack of measurement and… Read more »
Ireland is not saying screw business. Ireland is saying screw the Irish working people. And look after the well connected, the demanding, and the insiders.
Denis the Menace got how many favours, at the last count. Vote FG, get policies that favour oligarchs.
And David….Britain is not sayng screw business. But France is saying it all the shortened working week.
[ If Britain chooses the “F**k business” route, guided either by the jihadi right or the Guevara left, so be it. ]
The Salafists are not in power in Britain. Though I always suspected Mayor Khan of being a lot more compromised by them than he would dare admit.
There may as well be salafists in power in the national broadcaster here. Mad. They are leading us down to ruin. All courtesy of a tax that nobody consented.
Listening to Simon Coveney (Bertie 3.0) (Gilmore was Bertie 2.0), it is Ireland that is run by madness.
Westminister is governed by chaos. But not mad. Ireland is run by madness..
There is a difference between chaos and madness. Madness is the IT property supplement in 2006. Chaos is the IT property supplement in 2009.
IN ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF THE TYPICAL FOLKS — Self-employed or Employee or Forced-Jobless — WHO ARE THE BACKBONE OF THE REAL ECONOMY UPON WHICH THE TRENDY PHILOSAPHISTS SUCK THE VALUE FROM, & WHOM THEY HAVE UTMOST CONTEMPT FOR ;
has been locked out of twitter
“We don’t see too much “white privilege” here in a gaunt depression-era working family wearing clothing sewn from flour sacks, looking as if a good meal would not go amiss.”
Fxxk NOT questioning that belated story since NINETEEN SIXTIES — only ! ; NOT since 1945 — which we have been indoctrinated with by : Hollywood BBC [ e.g. Lawrence Olivier ] Ref. Satellite Mission … Ukraine ; Project Leader for The Dreadful Few in that Mission ; Ms. Victoria Nuland [ Family name changed from “Nudleman” ] [ Wife of Robert Kagan, an American historian and foreign policy commentator at the Brookings Institution ] Well, why the phrase “Fxxk Business” is not such a shocker is because Warmonger Victoria Nuland said in recent past ; “Fxxk the EU !”… Read more »
The story has more holes in it than a Swiss Cheese.
And concerning Free Enterprise, Ireland is a good place for oligopolies like the alco-misery-maker, preferred sectors like the media, and large US MNCs. Try and open a business in Ireland, and the quangos will suck you dry.
Putting the article in the overall context ;
The German Queen on the English throne owns it all – Even America !!
The Sasanach are considered worldwide to be a Male Homosexual Nation ; Even Irish of Hibernia are wary of Irish descendants in Sasana in that regard. Such is how powerful the homosexual culture is over there to corrupt. I inform exactly as to how the bulk of ordinary Irish in Hibernia think foremost about Sasana, or indeed about Britain as an organisation rather than solely England as Sasana. Napoleon thought of the English as a nation of shopkeepers. But, we Irish think of the English as a nation of Male Homosexuals & Male Bisexuals & Trysexuals. And, so it does… Read more »
VIP Document ! ! ! RATHER “INFAMOUS” DOCUMENT … really. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> CONTENTS Foreword i Acknowledgements iii Contents v Executive Summary vii Chapter 1 Introduction 1 Chapter 2 The economic theory of migration 3 The determinants of migration 3 Does migration promote economic welfare? 4 The bottom line 5 Chapter 3 Key trends 7 History 7 Recent trends 10 EU aspects 11 Future prospects 12 Chapter 4 Objectives of current policy 15 Chapter 5 Current immigration system 19 The current system of control over entry and settlement 19 Policies which impact on integration 24 Chapter 6 The economic and social outcomes… Read more »
Ireland has such an opportunity to become a beacon of the free market but I just know it will , is and has already messed up.
Politicians are viewed as fixers here of “unfair” distribution. This is the mortal mistake. The idea that a government can solve a problem is fanciful.
Coveny’s rent regulation has already crippled house build.