Amid a tragic parade of gloomy Europhile pundits [John Bruton, Pat Cox, Alan Dukes and Noel Whelan to name but four] on Today with Seán O’Rourke on RTE Radio 1 this morning, David McWilliams took a more cheerful stance on the Brexit vote.
Seán O’Rourke: “I want to go now to David McWilliams, on the line, the economist. David you dissent from a widely held view, among economists, that this is very bad for Britain, very bad for Ireland economically. Just looking at one of the headlines on something you wrote in the [Irish] Independent recently. ‘We will do just fine if there’s a Brexit‘ – how so?
David McWilliams: “The most important thing was to get the result right, OK. There’s no point in analysing the wrong result. So I always believed the British would leave and that was an unusual position in Ireland but not an unusual position if you spent any time working or living in England.
So I think what happened, it wasn’t that I dissented, Sean, in actual fact I believe Official Ireland just got this totally wrong – underestimated the feeling, overestimated their use of propaganda when they deployed it. And, ultimately now, have got to pick up the pieces.
I couldn’t understand why Ireland bet so ubiquitously, Official Ireland that is, Sean, on one result in a two-horse race that we knew was going to go down to the line. We have to have a plan B and Official Ireland had no plan B so..”
O’Rourke: [audible sigh] “Well, we’ll see now…”
McWilliams: “But it’s very important to listen to that Sean. And it’s very important that your listeners are told this: That we had a two-horse race. For whatever reason, Cameron decided go for it, he did. When it became apparent that this was going to be 50/50 or close to it.
We should have a much more nuanced approach, rather than trying to scare people into voting one way. Now I’ll come back to the scare, right.
Every single institution, Sean, that has told us this will be economically a catastrophe, it’ll be detrimental, etc, etc..Every single one of those also told us in Ireland it would be a soft landing eight years ago. Ok?
The IMF, the European Commission, all these institutions that were so confident in the forecast about Brexit got everything wrong on the financial crisis.
So, let’s just stand back a bit. Nobody really knows what is going to happen economically.However, what we do know is that, during this period of uncertainty, some direct foreign investment will be diverted away from Britain because companies might think, ‘well, hold on a second, we’re not going to put, invest there, just in case, we don’t know really what the end result is going to be’.
Now where Sean will that DFI be diverted to? Americans will not stop investing in Europe, via the two English-speaking countries in Europe, just because Britain has said politically ‘we’re out of the EU’. So I suspect we could have a huge opportunity here, actually garner a percentage of that diverted capital and income to Ireland. So rather than assume that the world is going to end, what we know Sean, is that change is the only thing that is constant in life.”
O’Rourke: [faintly audible sigh] “Ok, I’ll come back to you on that..”
McWilliams: “And we’ve got to deal with it…”
O’Rourke: “In a few moments…”
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Previously: ‘You Came Out Pretty Aggressive There, Dan’