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Britain is facing into a 'good old-fashioned Sterling crisis', says AIB chairman

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal yesterday, Pym spoke candidly about his views on Boris Johnson.

Image: Mark Stedman

THE UK IS facing into a “good old-fashioned Sterling crisis” post-Brexit, according to chairman of AIB, Richard Pym.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School in Donegal yesterday, Pym gave his candid views on Boris Johnson, the favourite to be announced as the new UK Prime Minister later today.

He told the audience that he would not hire Johnson if he was interviewing him for a role on the bank’s board, citing his ‘uncombed hair’, ‘questionably racist language’ and being dismissed from two previous roles.

Pym said he would be abandoning “non-committal business-person language” for his speech because “we are in the fight for our lives”. 

Financial crisis

He said Brexiteers argue that the UK will benefit from leaving the EU, but he believes  the country is facing into some very real financial problems post-Brexit, and could likely experience a Sterling crisis.

Holding up his own British passport at the podium in Glenties, he said the EU project was based upon upholding peace, and that peace between Britain and Ireland could not have been achieved outside of the European Union. 

Although he noted the economic threat posed by Brexit, Pym also said that “Ireland can benefit from Brexit as it absorbs economic activity displaced from the UK.”

The AIB chair said many Brexit campaigners “dream of a closer trade association with the USA building on the already close political association between US Republicans and UK Conservatives”.

Whilst the price would be the partial destruction of British farming, the opportunity of free trade with the USA would offset the trade loss with the EU, he added.

EU referendum Source: Stefan Rousseau

Former Conservative and UKIP MP, Douglas Carswell, who was also in attendance at the discussion on Brexit, said Ireland is failing to understand the reasons behind Euroscepticism in Britain. 

He said “mocking” and “pitying” those that voted to leave the EU is not facing up to the “flaws” inherent in the EU political system.

Carswell said such “comfort blanket thinking” has now resulted in a no-deal Brexit being the most likely possibility. 

Concessions on the backstop 

He said if “minor concessions” were made by Ireland on the backstop, such as accepting a time limit, Theresa May’s deal may have been voted through.

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“Instead you now have Boris, and a no-deal is now more likely,” he said, adding that in 15 weeks time, Britain will most likely leave with a no-deal.

He disagreed with the view of the AIB chair that the UK is facing serious issues, countering that the EU model has been bad for growth and innovation.

Britain post-Brexit will flourish, said Carswell, a comment which drew a titter of laughter from the audience. He added: “I think a time limit on the backstop is the obvious way forward.”

Carswell said he did regret that Brexit had spawned a “very nasty, nasty, nasty culture war that has been waged”. He feared it had created “two tribes” in the UK, similar to a divide that exists between US Democrats and Conservatives in the US. 

“That bothers me enormously,” he said.

During the same session, Fianna Fáil’s Brexit spokesperson Lisa Chambers said a no-deal Brexit “would plunge the UK into recession, shrink the economy, trigger a fall in Sterling, a rise in unemployment; slow wage growth and deter investment”.

“Against the backdrop of sterling falling last week Jacob Rees-Mogg dismisses this and other projections as ‘project fear’,” she said, adding:

The reality is that the UK is already poorer because of Brexit: it has already damaged social cohesion; reignited the debate on the fragmentation of the Union; diminished the UK’s standing on the international stage and has shown itself to be a less hospitable, welcoming place.

“A no deal Brexit will only serve to expose these issues even more.”

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