Brexit Interview with Tánaiste Simon Coveney and Matheson’s Michael Jackson


Business leaders from across the Munster region gathered last week for a Matheson event at the Kingsley Hotel, Cork to hear from Tánaiste and Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD and Matheson Managing Partner, Michael Jackson.

Speaking in a Brexit Q&A video interview with Matheson filmed alongside the event in Cork, Minister Coveney shared his views on key Brexit issues, covering the current state of play of EU-UK political negotiations; the likelihood of a ‘No Deal’ outcome; the possibility of an extension to the transition period; preparation of Irish businesses; EU solidarity and Brexit fatigue. Minister Coveney’s comments within the interview included the following points.

  • On the current state of play of the Brexit negotiations: “I’ve been confident for a long time that we will find a way of getting a deal…. the withdrawal treaty, which is a legal document, is more than 90% complete now.  The last 5 to 10% was always going to be difficult.”
  • On the possible extension to the transition period and the backstop: “I do think there is going to be a need for more than two years to get all of the issues that we need agreed between the EU and the UK finalised, including to reassure people that any backstop is very unlikely to be used.”
  • On Brexit fatigue, solidarity of EU leaders and Irish-specific issues: “I don’t get any sense that the solidarity with the Irish position and certainly the Irish vulnerability and exposure in the context of a negative fallout from Brexit has waned at all.  If anything the solidarity that I’ve seen from EU leaders, and the Taoiseach I think is the same, has strengthened in recent weeks and recent months.”
  • On business preparing for Brexit: “The main message that we are giving to businesses …is no matter how big or small your business, assign somebody, or assign a team in your business to start thinking about Brexit and engaging with Irish agencies because there is a lot of help and a lot of advice there for you.” 

Minister Coveney’s full Q&A interview on Brexit filmed in Cork is available below.

Speaking also from Cork this week for Matheson’s latest Brexit Q&A video interview, Matheson Managing Partner, Michael Jackson shared his views on key Brexit considerations arising now for Irish industry sectors – and picked up on the issue around the transition period identified by Minister Coveney. Mr Jackson’s observations on some of the current issues are as follows:

  • On the proposed transition period and possible extension: Mr Jackson expressed the view that the proposed transition period was always too short in terms of allowing sufficient time for people to prepare for what is an unprecedented change in trading circumstances.  Mr Jackson noted the significance of the proposed UK exit transition period in the context of businesses activating their Brexit contingency plans. He said that affected business sectors would welcome an extension of the proposed transition period; and that for many clients, the length of the transition period will determine how quickly they would need, for example, to increase their footprint on the ground, how quickly they need to alter their supply chain, noting that it is important for businesses to have enough time to achieve those changes.
  • On the response of industry sectors to the continuing Brexit uncertainty: Mr Jackson stated that he sees determination by business and industry sectors to continue to grow and adapt to the changing realities that Brexit brings, alongside a continued sense of frustration at the lack of progress in the negotiations and what business perceives to be a large gap between politics and business realities, including employment.
  • On client solutions and business impacts: Mr Jackson said that many clients at this point have finished their scenario planning and are now in the process of implementing Brexit plans, which vary depending on the sector and on the structure of each individual organisation. He noted that it was clear that there is no one size fits all approach to Brexit planning and that Matheson is working with clients to help manage levels of disruption with solutions that work for their businesses.

Michael Jackson’s full Q&A interview on Brexit filmed in Cork is available below.

Please contact Michael.jackson@matheson.com or any member of our Brexit Advisory Group if you would like further detail on Matheson’s Brexit services.