A few thoughts from the sidelines

Let me start by saying I have no horse in the race if UK chooses to leave or remain in the EU. I am Irish and currently residing in Switzerland. It is unlikely that Ireland will leave the EU in my lifetime as we have a history of voting for pro EU treaties (sometimes we just keep voting until the “correct” answer is given!). You could say that indirectly I have a horse as Ireland has enjoyed strong reciprocal trading relationships with the UK since we settled our differences, however I don’t foresee any damage to that in the coming months regardless of outcome.

Once again however the media has played their usual role of flinging as much poo around the place in hope that something will stick but more importantly for them they will circulate their publications and boost ad revenue. A highly irresponsible way to decide an election but this is the world we live in.  This Brexit referendum is becoming quite emotional and aggressive as we hurtle towards the finish line and I would urge most to avoid the newspapers until this is done and take a more calculated approach to their decision.

You could read this and say I’m wrong about this or that, but at the end of the day this is how people come to decisions in a democratic environment, if you don’t agree with me or my beliefs that’s quite all right by me as it probably means I do not agree with your opinions, but democracy dictates that I have to live with them.

Personally I take a much more sombre approach and with the luxury of not actually having to cast a vote or make a decision I have looked at it from both angles dispassionately.

I believe the notion that has been propagated that if Brexit occurs the UK will be shut out from trade with the EU is utterly false. Yes for a period after the vote their will be a bit of chaos as both importers and exporters seek clarification on where they stand and the terms of trade may suffer on both sides for a while as creditors and debtors will demand payment up front rather than take any risk in the long term. This will of course lend to even more sensational headlines. However, once the dust has settled I tend to believe that people who seek to do business with each other will continue to do so no matter what the set up.

In the interest of fairness I also believe the Brexit camp view that if successful they would enter some kind of Utopian world whereby there exports would suddenly start flying off the shelves again is also utter nonsense. Global trade is not a new phenomenon- the same opportunities and pitfalls will exist on June 24th as did on June 22nd, and it will be up to UK business to adapt and refine products for the market place just like they do know. The notion that it would eliminate inefficiencies and not have to conform to EU rule surrounding products is also crazy as you will still be looking to sell products in to the EU block or did you think you were just going to ignore the world’s largest trading bloc?

It is not in the interest of the EU to block transactions with the UK or impose tariffs etc when a considerable number of the member countries have UK as one of their most important trading partners. More importantly if they do such an exercise and are seen to “punish” the UK for simply exercising a democratic freedom that would seem to me as a very foolish endeavor and would certainly turn a few more heads into thinking maybe this EU thing isn’t for us either.

Consider the below tables and see how many EU members you can spot in the top 10 nations that export to the UK, more importantly see who is Number one. So Mr. Schauble can throw around passive aggressive comments all he likes but I’m pretty sure the top brass at Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler to name but a few and all the unions that are associated with these organisations might want him to soften his stance a little.

I also reject the notion that In the case of Brexit house prices would collapse 30% as some have been quoted – or I think the chancellor himself picked a number of 10-18% out of his arse at some point. I reject this on a couple of levels.


  • No one, and I mean no one has a clue what will happen in the event of Brexit let alone pick how much house prices may or may not fall by
  • House prices in the UK have risen steadily over the last 30 years to a point where it is supremely difficult for the average person to get on the ladder so to speak, would it be such a bad thing if house prices fell a little?
  • The widely accepted notion that house prices will fall is in my opinion false as in the most recent period of say last ten years growth has largely been fuelled by overseas money entering the UK market due to many factors – rule of law, diversifying revenue streams and most importantly getting their money out of a potentially volatile and dictatorial regime overseas. I cannot see why this would stop, if anything I think it would pick up (don’t underestimate the amount of Anti –EU sentiment out there in Europe itself).
  • If I were a wealthy European (and I am almost certainly not!) I wouldn’t think twice about moving a considerable % of my money into UK assets for diversification purposes. Personally I don’t like property as in investment but plenty around me do.


On the issue of the Pound and what might or might not happen to its value I again am totally agnostic or unperturbed.


First of all do not for one second listen to an investment bank who will absolutely be on the front line to benefit from volatility in the pound surrounding this referendum. They get paid to stir the pot and create volatility and will always be on the front line to mop up the blood spill after all is said and done.

Currencies have a way of confounding everyone and also proving everyone both right and wrong on different time frames. Overall I believe the pound will actually get stronger as I genuinely believe there would be more capital inflows into the UK on a case of Brexit, but in the event of a rapid depreciation I think this would provide a nice necessary crutch for UK exporters to fall back on in the potential chaotic scenarios that may exist following the referendum.

Having a look at the UK top exports nothing screams to me as majorly price elastic, UK is not China and does not produce cheap goods that are easily substituted in my humble opinion. Demand for capital type goods will always be there and if anything may slightly tick higher while buyers try to take advantage of a slightly weaker currency thereby allowing the pound to find a natural level.

UK exports


In respect to immigration it’s a tricky one and really has become quite the dominant theme throughout the whole campaign. It’s a tricky subject as I only have my own experiences to reflect on in a bubble type environment. I was an immigrant in the UK, worked with many different nationalities from around EU also. However as I was told by a rather racist cabbie once “oh yes mate but you are the good kind of immigrant”. Now this guy was actually referring to my skin tone and we needn’t go down that road but really the subject of immigration is a highly divisive class issue. No one had a problem with me in my job because I got paid well and contributed large amount of revenue to Her majesty, also I attained my role not because I provided my labour cheaper than the closest UK person but rather because I was better. However the further down the added value chain you go in terms of industry, immigration becomes a highly emotional issue.

I can understand how those in low added value positions can be upset at their jobs been taken by the cheaper alternative, especially if that cheaper alternative happens to be from a different country. The problem itself is actually way more complicated than a simple in or out referendum in my view. And if Cameron really wanted to avoid Brexit I think he could have gone a lot further in the issue of immigration a few years ago and we probably would not be having this referendum at all.

I am a firm believer in free movement of labour. I have been an immigrant in that respect all my life and I have contributed to the country I lived in all through that as well in a positive manner. I currently work in an office with a large number of different nationalities and we get along just fine. Complaining about immigration is like harking back to the days when you could go out have a few pints a bag of chips and still have change for the bus fare home. THOSE DAYS ARE GONE. We all now exist in a more globalised community – learn to engage with it and not fight it. If your job is being replaced by a cheaper means of production well I’m sorry to tell you that is always the case – so has mine and I have had to adapt and deal with it.

It is not immigration that is causing you angst it is a host of other factors that has led to this situation whereby your skills are not valued. Therefore you must change your skills. If you cannot change your skills there are reasons for that too, but it absolutely not the fault of immigrants. Just putting a cap on immigrants or banning them altogether is not going to bring you back to prosperity.

In summary as I always do I congratulate you for reading this far (most don’t!). Do I believe that Brexit is a good thing or bad thing? I think that Brexit will not cause the Armageddon like scenarios been thrown around in the press with reckless abandon. Do I think it’s the right choice for the UK, yes I probably do. More because I personally do not like what the EU is becoming, I like what it once was – but I do not buy into attempts for further political ties in the future. Europe is a diverse region with many different cultural approaches to life- a one size fits all attitude simply doesn’t work in my opinion.

I like free trade

I like free movement of capital and people

I like that a common currency has eliminated a lot of hassle and made cross border transactions easier and set a relative level of prices.

I do not like the thought of a more united Europe politically or the bureaucracy that one would expect from any organisation as large as the EU bloc.

I believe in allowing countries who democratically elect their own government to be able to allow them to govern in the best way for that country, Brexit does not guarantee this would happen either For what it worth.

I do not believe that it is wise to have a governing power of un-elected representatives deciding the fate on many issues from a central point.

Take it from me standing at 6ft 5 and sadly approx. 15 stone – “One size fits all” is almost never the case.

Do I think Brexit will happen ? Probably not, I haven’t witnessed many events that I can think of where the majority vote to really change things – usually the status qou wins out by a smidgen. It has been hard for Brexiteers to give any kind of concrete idea of what life would look like the next day should they win as they do not possess a crystal ball. Such a scenario does not lend well to people voting as even if they are fed up with their current situation people often do not want to take the risk that it might get worse (even if they think it will get better)

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