UK Treasury Select Chair provides her insights into current political developments in London

Panel discussion of Business, Brexiteers and Brussels insiders debate the future trading relationship

Leading politicians from both sides of the Irish Sea, pro-Brexit campaigners and Brussels insiders came together to debate the current political impasse in Brexit negotiations and the Big Principles that should frame the future customs arrangement between the EU and UK at our #AGENDA2018 Brexit Seminar, sponsored by KPMG and Ulster Bank last Wednesday.

The theme of the #AGENDA2018 event – “Brexit 1 Year On: What has happened and what is next” – is particularly timely given Prime Minister 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 this month.

John McGrane, the Director-General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce, said: “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.”

In his presentation, Brian Daly, Partner and Head of Brexit, KPMG in Ireland said: “With little over 10 months until the UK withdraws from the EU, now is the time for business to become Brexit ready. Irrespective of the final outcome of negotiations, having a plan in place will help you manage the challenges and hopefully the opportunities that Brexit will bring. Today’s discussion provides an important milestone for business leaders to assess progress in political negotiations and their impact on future trading ties within these islands.”

Eddie Cullen, Managing Director, Commercial Banking Division at Ulster Bank said: “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.” 

The #Agenda2018 event also featured a panel discussion on the current impasse in Brexit negotiations featuring voices from Dublin, London and Brussels including those from both sides of the Brexit debate in the UK.

Key speakers at the event included:

  • Senator Neale Richmond, Chair of the Seanad Special Select Committee on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU;
  • Nicky Morgan MP, Chair of the UK Treasury Select Committee;
  • Tony Connelly, RTE Europe Editor;
  • Lucinda Creighton, CEO of Vulcan Consulting and former Minister of State for European Affairs;
  • Victoria Hewson, Senior Counsel at the Institute for Economic Affairs’ International Trade and Competition Unit;
  • Alex Story, former Head of Business for British and Head of Business Relations at;
  • Eoin O’Neill, President of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce;
  • John McGrane, Director-General of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce;
  • Pat Cambage, Chair of the British Irish Chamber of Commerce Brexit Subcommittee;
  • Brian Daly, Head of Brexit, KPMG in Ireland;
  • Eddie Cullen, Managing Director, Commercial Banking Division at Ulster Bank.

To re-watch the event online, please see:

Join the conversation by tweeting #AGENDA2018.