Brexit Uncertainty: Should Ireland begin poaching US Tech Multinationals based in UK?

With tech firms employing 700,000 people in London alone, many of the ‘big’ tech employers in that region – giants such as Microsoft and Google – are said to be uneasy about the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union.

It seems that now would be the ideal time to attract these big companies to Ireland, as we have no issues with leaving the EU. US tech multinationals, in particular, need to be reminded that Ireland is an English-speaking country that loves Europe and has growing reservoirs of tech skills, cheaper property, lower tax rates and direct flights to big US cities. Also, that we have seamless, barrierless, permanent access to the second largest market in the world.

If Britain is actually determined to leave the EU, it will undoubtedly hurt Ireland and we may need to soften the blow by legitimately targeting multinationals to relocate here.

As it happens, there are many indications that we might be pushing an open door on the issue: In February 2016, a poll of 700 British and German companies operating in the UK found that over a third would consider moving jobs out of the country following a vote to leave the European Union.

The Bertelsmann Foundation poll found that 41pc of tech companies said they would either “reduce capacities” in the UK or move to another country in the event of a Brexit.

These are firms such as the British smartphone chip company ARM, which designs the chips that power many of the world’s smartphones. A few weeks ago, ARM’s chief finance officer said that Britain leaving the EU would leave it at a disadvantage to other EU countries for generating tech jobs.

A spokesperson at the IDA said that they “continue to be very active” in persuading companies to relocate to Ireland.

Only last month, the head of Ireland’s Central Bank said that he has “no doubt” multinational firms considering a UK investment are putting off those investments because of the Brexit referendum.

“Almost three-quarters feel Brexit would make Ireland more attractive for multinationals to invest,” said Ruth Curran, a partner at Merc Partners, which conducted a survey on the issue among 330 senior Irish executives.