#AGENDA2018: Business, Politics & Brexit


Leading politicians from both sides of the Irish Sea, pro-Brexit campaigners and EU advocates came together on Wednesday, May 30th to debate the current political impasse in the Brexit negotiations and the principles that should frame the future customs arrangement between the EU and UK at this morning’s British Irish Chamber of Commerce event, sponsored by Ulster Bank and KPMG.

The theme of the #AGENDA2018 event – “Brexit 1 Year On: What has happened and what is next” – was timely given Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to publish a white paper on the UK’s future relationship with the EU in advance of the crucial European Council Summit at the end of June.

The event opened with addresses from Senator Neale Richmond and Nicky Morgan MP, Chair of the UK Treasury Select Committee who then join RTE’s Europe Editor Tony Connelly for a discussion regarding the current impasse in Brexit negotiations.

Another panel session took place later in the event with speakers including Victoria Hewson, Senior Counsel at the Institute for Economic Affairs, Alex Story, Head of Business Relations at leave.eu, John McGrane, Director-General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce and Lucinda Creighton, CEO of Vulcan Consulting and former Minister of State for European Affairs. The attending audience listened to a spirited debate featuring views from both sides of the Brexit debate. Recent developments in Italy was one of the key topics touched on during the session.

After the event John McGrane, Director-General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, commented:

“Brexit negotiations to date have proven to be slow, difficult and fraught with uncertainty. With the UK due to unveil its preferred post-Brexit customs arrangement with the EU, the coming weeks will prove pivotal in framing the future ties between our two islands.

However, a sense of urgency needs to be injected into the negotiations. To facilitate movement towards a mutually beneficial trading framework, the Chamber has put forward our paper on ‘Big Principles for a Strong Brexit Partnership’ laying out a customs arrangement that avoids the need for a border on the island of Ireland. In providing a politically acceptable, yet technologically achievable solution, we hope to accelerate progress in current talks.”

A recording of the seminar can  be viewed through the link below:

#AGENDA2018 Business, Politics & Brexit - Event Recap


The focus on both UK and Irish Government’s current approach to Brexit negotiations continued later that evening at the British Irish Chamber of Commerce annual networking dinner with a keynote address from The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD.

Addressing the dinner, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney TD, said:

“Thanks to the work of businesses like those represented here, our trading relationship is thriving – and this Government continues to do everything in its power to ensure that this remains the case. The UK has always been our one of closest partners, and we hope to continue this strong relationship after Brexit. Ireland has been clear in our position that a positive relationship between the EU and the UK, and between Ireland and the UK, is in all of our interests. A prosperous Britain is good for Ireland, and indeed vice versa. It is this firmly-held belief that informs our approach to the Brexit negotiations.”

A key milestone in the Chamber’s #AGENDA2018 event series sponsored by Ulster Bank and KPMG, the dinner brought together 450 influential figures from the worlds of business, investment and politics to hear the keynote speech by the Tánaiste and a speech by guest Robin Barnett, The British Ambassador of Ireland.

Eddie Cullen, Managing Director, Commercial Banking Division at Ulster Bank commented on the importance of the days events:

“Ulster Bank is very pleased to continue with our support of the #AGENDA2018 event series. For many of our customers, maintaining trade links with the UK is vital to their growth ambition. Events such as today’s can help businesses chart this period of uncertainty, take advantage of any opportunities, minimise any potential adverse impacts and plan for the future. Working with the Chamber provides an excellent platform to support businesses in every region of the UK and Ireland as they look to 2019 and beyond.”






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