General angst, everywhere but here!
There are a lot of people getting very angry about the EU’s determination that Apple should be paying Euro 13bn in tax to the Irish Government.
Apple aren’t happy at the prospect of corporate profits being slashed
Ireland isn’t happy at having to “eat its seed potatoes” ( a harsh reference to the potato famine)
The United States isn’t happy that not just Apple but the many other companies using Ireland as a tax haven, may find themselves paying as much to the Irish Government as they’d have been paying in the States.
Everyone is very unhappy indeed when they think of Britain, grinning at the prospect of being able to offer Apple and its likes the same sweetheart deals offered by Ireland- with their being nothing anyone can do about it.
The negative capability we reap from BREXIT
This is the negative capability of BREXIT. By which I mean the capacity of Britain to profit from the problems it leaves behind. One of the forgotten problems (certainly in the debate we’ve just had) is Ireland. From Celtic Tiger to a property bankrupt, Ireland has swung from boom and bust with an agility only matched by Iceland. But unlike Iceland, Ireland is not self determining.
Now Ireland has found its legs, the EU is keen to put an end to the support mechanism that has got it back on its feet. Whether the analogy is to “eating seed potatoes” or to the kicking away of crutches, Ireland does not feel it is ready and the EU reckons it is milking it.
As for Apple, it is not alone in being brought in line with other more established businesses. Airbnb is under fire in London this morning for non-disclosure of the rental patterns of its landlords (my block of flats is turning into an Airbnb hostel). Uber is seeing its profits slashed as traditional cabbies fight back, demanding a level playing field.
Nor is it alone as a US corporation operating in Ireland.
The list of major firms operating in the Republic includes Intel, Boston Scientific, Dell, Pfizer, Google, Hewlett Packard,Linked in Facebook and Johnson and Johnson.
Ireland has benefited from $277bn (£182bn) of US direct foreign investment in the past two decades – gaining more from American firms than Brazil, Russia, India and China combined.
Ireland is riding two horse, the US corporates and the EU’s subsidies. Unlike Britain, Ireland does not have the economic confidence to ditch either. The idea of Ireland exiting the EU to keep its sweetheart deals will fill the ordinary Irish person with dread, the thought of losing those deals, will fill the Treasury with dread.
To put this in perspective, the taxes it would charge Apple to comply with the EU would more than double its corporate tax revenues. The chances of it retaining that windfall for any time are rated as zero
Given the choice, where would you choose to register your company?
I’d wager that of the 700 US companies currently registered in Ireland , the vast majority would sooner be registered in the UK, if we could offer the same sweetheart deals. Even if we offered our current eye-watering low rates of corporation taxes against the EU prescribed rates to be imposed on Apple, we would be deluged with inward investment.
The EU has handed those who voted BREXIT a remarkable validation for their decision. The bet on freeing ourselves from the inherent weaknesses of the European Union (the weaker members) looks like it may pay off.
Meanwhile Germany and France may be realising that for all the tough talking they are promising, they are playing with a diminished set of cards, their hands are looking a lot less strong and the capacity of the UK to play its aces, all the higher.
Where would you like to live and work ?
If I worked for one of the 700 US companies in Ireland, I would choose to work in Great Britain for a whole load of reasons but mostly because Britain is Great and Ireland (I’m afraid isn’t).
That may be a nationalistic statement that gets the likes of Con Keating’s neck-hairs standing up but I note that even Con is living in Britain and not Ireland. The diaspora – the Irish brain drain- continues.
If I was Ireland, I’d align myself with my old master. But that might be a little Gladstonian for 6 am on a summer’s morning in Newcastle!