We must act now to entice UK finance firms here

We in Ireland must absorb the messages of the voting patterns that reflect underlying problems, writes John Moran

“We must absorb the messages of the voting patterns that reflect underlying problems we must combat with force in Ireland too.” Photograph: Getty Images

“We must absorb the messages of the voting patterns that reflect underlying problems we must combat with force in Ireland too.” Photograph: Getty Images

 

Even the darkest Brexit clouds can have silver linings . . .

I am just back from Glasgow (day of vote), Belfast (days after result) and London. Train and plane rides allow a lot of reflection.

For many months, I’ve worried that voters might, despite the bookies, deliver a shock.

Like others, I was saddened by xenophobic arguments polluting the debate and polarising a country in contrast to the strong positive message from the mayoral election in London. Now I am just angered the open pluralist views of a clear majority of younger voters, the future of the UK, have been relegated to the back seat.

There are many messages for Ireland.

Firstly, young people even in the UK reject this inward-looking vision of the future.

We must resoundingly reiterate that Ireland rejects it too.

The joy of voters after the same-sex referendum for our new pluralist, diverse, accepting Ireland is our reality and the aspiration of young and old for our country and for Europe, not that of the poster choices of Nigel Farage.

We do not have Céad Míle Fáilte as one of our national anthems for nothing. We welcome migration from the EU and beyond. Our #COYBIG fans partying with all nationalities in France has been a welcome tonic against the shame we feel when see abuse directed at other immigrants in the UK.

Secondly, we must absorb the messages of the voting patterns that reflect underlying problems we must combat with force in Ireland too.

We must find sustainable ways to fix the despair of many about growing inequalities and the negative impact globalisation and new technology have on their own lives and their communities (mainly in former industrial hinterlands or rural communities).

Dubious claims

How many of our own population when the status quo seems so unattractive might accept similar dubious claims of populist politicians about a rosy future and ignore warnings of economic failure they feel hit not them but the “elite”?

Thirdly, we must act now that the result is known, not ignore it.

I still believe that new UK leaders (and especially its pragmatic parliament) can better expose the downsides of the new reality and retest national opinion before having to trigger article 50, and that a united Britain will reopen its arms to Europe and recognise that the reform so necessary for a safe, successful Europe is best achieved from within.

Of course, this might not happen and we must react and devise solutions that solve our own structural problems too.

Each sector is different. Back from the City of London, here’s my humble suggestion for our letter to financial services companies: Dear Big Boss of Big Bank,

You, your employees and your families are probably reeling in shock. Like us, you’re probably asking how now am I actually to implement this contingency plan?

We are writing to you as we think that the solutions you need are also the solutions we need

If you can engage with us, we will respond with open arms.

We are not perfect. No one is but we know we have at least two years to put in place what else we need. What we will promise is:

(a) A new pan 28 country operating strategy for you straddling from here the new EU and while keeping a foot in the UK. (b) To develop and transition you to a more efficient operating cost model, especially if you consider a new campus we want to build in a regional city as Dublin is already very successful.

(c) To allow you and others operate in big scale in either or both of only two FS clusters we are building, one in Dublin and another in a new regional urban campus where you will find the best housing, the best third-level facilities integrated into your industry and a quality of life much better and cheaper than that you have at present. We also have suffering voters and we want our non-Dublin voters to be part of the solution too.

(d) To improve wifi-enabled public transport (a) within Dublin, (b) between Dublin and this new campus, and (c) air connections between both, the UK and the rest of Europe.

(e) A place where English is your working language and your kids can grow-up fluent in that language too but we will improve foreign language teaching in our schools.

(f) A welcoming place that acts and will continue to act as a magnet for talent from all over Europe. You can ask the mayor of Paris if you want a reference for our young (and not so young)!

(g) A place where we value education although with the UK gone, we know it’s up to us now to invest more to create the EU’s best English language-based universities.

(h) A place that has shown we value and support business.

(i) An administration which during its EU presidency showed we can understand and advance complicated financial services matters.

(j) To make the laws of Ireland (so similar to the UK ones) the logical replacement choice of an EU law for contracts by having the most efficient courts and allowing your own legal teams and employees to even participate in cases themselves.

What we would like you to do

(a) Come visit

(b) Bring your friends

(c) Help us convince the European Banking Authority that their future is here too in our new urban financial services campus.

With hope for a combined future,

The Big Boss Here

John Moran is former secretary general of the Department of Finance. The views expressed here are personal

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