Former Goldman Sachs boss Sutherland says an Irish government must be in office to respond.
London-based former Goldman Sachs International and BP boss Peter Sutherland – whom The Sunday Times Rich List valued at £130m at the week-end – said it is imperative Ireland forms a stable government to be ready for a possible Brexit.
“The Irish situation as I’m viewing it is only in the context of Brexit. This is the biggest political-economic event in 70 years of history, in my view. It is disappointing, to put it mildly, that we do not have a stable government to address this particular issue.
“If there’s a positive vote, there’s no issue. But if there were to be a negative vote, and nobody knows anything other than there would be a big risk, then a lot of issues will begin to crystallise.”
“They (the UK) will have to renegotiate over 50 free trade agreements with countries around the world that the EU currently provides for them and they will have to negotiate a treaty or agreement with the EU, which will include Ireland, in regard to what will happen next.
“I think under any scenario the UK will be required to provide free movement of people, financial contributions very comparable to the financial contributions that exist today, and the application of rules and regulations just as if they were members.”
He said emotion and not common sense economics was driving the Brexit debate in this country.
“Emotion is driving the debate in Britain, and therefore it has great importance to Ireland. The sooner we get a government in place, which is stable and not consumed by issues which are relatively minor. The sooner that happens, the better.”
“I do know that the immediate trauma following a Brexit vote will be very considerable, and it may have all sorts of implications in terms of our market and the investment strategy of those who would seek to locate and develop businesses in Ireland, both positive and negative.
“If sterling (can) take a hit because Boris Johnson decides to go one way or the other, which astounds me, imagine what the case will be if there is a decision to exit, contrary to the advice of every major trading partner in the world, the most eminent of whom was Obama.”
He was scornful of suggestions Ireland should follow the UK if it leaves the EU: “We know the history of a solely bilateral relationship with the UK over decades before we joined the EU together. We know that Europe has transformed our position, and our industrial strategy is based on securing inward investment and indeed indigenous investment.”