Brexit: Patrick Coveney says Britain set to leave EU

Greencore chief says departure would be ‘very, very bad for the Irish economy’

Greeencore chief executive Patrick Coveney told a Dublin Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday that “it would be very, very bad for the Irish,European and world economies if Britain voted for a so-called Brexit. My personal judgment is that that’s what they’re going to do.”

Greeencore chief executive Patrick Coveney told a Dublin Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday that “it would be very, very bad for the Irish,European and world economies if Britain voted for a so-called Brexit. My personal judgment is that that’s what they’re going to do.”

 

The chief executive of one of Ireland’s largest companies believes Britain is poised to vote to leave the EU.

Patrick Coveney of Greencore said his belief was that the referendum was not likely to repeat the pattern seen in Scotland, “ where the simple shock value enabled the Scottish people to come back from the precipice”.

Mr Coveney told a Dublin Chamber of Commerce meeting on Wednesday that “it would be very, very bad for the Irish,European and world economies if Britain voted for a so-called Brexit. My personal judgment is that that’s what they’re going to do.”

The impact for Greencore, which is the largest Irish employer of people in the UK” would be negative but no catastrophic,” he said. The company has 23 plants in Britain, employing up to 15,000 people.

“The consequences for the food sector if Britain leaves the EU are relatively simple to predict, our costs will go up and our revenues will go down,” he said.

Companies operating there will face higher prices for imports, due to a likely fall in sterling and questions will emerge about the free movement of people. Around 35 per cent of Greencore’s British employees are non-UK EU nationals, he said.

Changes

“I don’t think you’re going to see dramatic changes there, but the politics of how that gets managed will change the movement of people within the EU.”

The Leave Campaign were not correct to dismiss the entire global economic profession as scaremongers, he said, referring to a UK Treasury report which showed that by 2030 every UK household would be £4,300 worse off in the event of Brexit.”That will have a significant effect on demand for our business and every other business in the UK.”

“By inclination we have a strategy to invest more in the UK, but that’s going to get more expensive,” he said, with the likelihood of higher UK interest rates being needed to support sterling on the foreign exchange markets.

“No region in the UK will be damaged more by a British decision to leave the EU than Northern Ireland.,” according to Mr Coveney.

“The idea that there’s going to be a big appetite in England to put massive compensating subsidies into Northern Ireland flies completely in the face of the political leanings of all the Leave campaigners. They are sleep-walking into a very dangerous place.”

The principal consequence for Ireland would be the negative impact on the economy of a key trading partner, he said.

Deal

“We will have to seek to do some kind of bi-lateral deal with the UK. I’ve no idea what that would involve but we’d have to try and it would be hard. There is no evidence to back the idea that there will be a massive compensating flow of FDI that would have gone to the UK that will now come to Ireland.”

“The world is a very fragile place politically right now. There are no powerful, stable, popular governments in the developed world any more. Any country that does is generally extreme. The political system is failing on a massive scale everywhere. You’ve got a level of fear about safety and a sense of community and place that is higher than ever.

“If there’s anything we can do individually it is to encourage people to vote to stay in,” he told the chamber meeting

“If Britain wasn’t in the EU today, one of its major trade priorities would be to get in. But that argument hasn’t caught fire. I think there is a very high chance that Britain will vote to leave. Everything I know factually tells me we need the UK to stay in. “

One of the misjudgments that the leave campaign has made is that there is going to be a very willing partner in the EU in terms of negotiations, after a Brexit, according to Mr Coveney. I think in terms of the EU they will encounter a group of people who will have very little interest in dealing with them at all.