Business Brexit

Sunday 22 July 2018

Jacob Rees-Mogg: the honourable member for the 17th century

Leo Varadkar addresses the gathering at the Brexit Breakfast event in Trinity
Leo Varadkar addresses the gathering at the Brexit Breakfast event in Trinity
Leo Varadkar addresses the gathering at the Brexit Breakfast event in Trinity which was attended by, among others, chief executive of CPL Resources Anne Heraty, Allianz CEO Sean McGrath, former Unilever CEO Niall FitzGerald, and INM's Dearbhail McDonald
Leo Varadkar addresses the gathering at the Brexit Breakfast event in Trinity
Jerome Reilly

Jerome Reilly

It was the most withering of put-downs, delivered by one of Ireland's best-known international businessmen.

Former CEO of global giant Unilever Niall FitzGerald - granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth 16 years ago for his advocacy for global Britain - set out a searing analysis of the real perils of Brexit.

Addressing senior business people in Trinity College at an INM-organised Brexit Breakfast last Thursday, Mr FitzGerald reserved his most cutting rebuke for arch-Brexiteer MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who he branded "the honourable member for the 17th century".

"A cross-party amendment has been tabled for the UK to stay in a customs union. If this passes... something will hit the fan in Number 10 because cabinet rejection of both 'a' and 'the' customs union featured in the recent sweetie thrown to Jacob Rees-Mogg (the honourable member for the 17th century) and other hard Brexiteers," he said.

Mr FitzGerald said he felt "personally betrayed" by Brexit, given his advancing of the cause of Britain as a world-class investment location.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the UK can't simply continue to take the benefits of the EU after Brexit. "The EU is a set-menu restaurant, not a la carte."

CPL Resources CEO Anne Heraty and Allianz Ireland CEO Sean McGrath joined Mr Varadkar and Mr FitzGerald on the panel. Mr McGrath said: "Businesses crave certainty and clarity... what Brexit has done is to bring the diametric opposite."

Among those who attended were financier Dermot Desmond, Central Bank Deputy Governor Sharon Donnery, Vodafone chief executive Anne O'Leary, DAA chief executive Dalton Philips, plus ambassadors and diplomats representing a number of key embassies including the United States, the UK, China, Australia and Canada.

Sunday Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business