The UK is heading for an exit from the European Union, according to Patrick Coveney, chief executive officer of Greencore Plc, which supplies food to about three-quarters of UK consumers every month.
"There is a high chance" of exit, Coveney said in a speech in Dublin on Wednesday, adding he doesn’t see a late shift back to the "Remain" camp, in contrast to the Scottish referendum in 2014. In the wake of a Brexit vote, "you will see Union Jacks all over England, a massive level of nationalism, and then slowly people will wake up to the fact it might be not great."
UK Prime Minister David Cameron will resign the morning after the vote, according to Coveney, whose brother, Simon, is a cabinet minister and has been tipped as an Irish leader. While a ComRes phone poll for the Sun newspaper found 46% backing "Remain" and 45% for “Leave,” five polls in two days before that showed Brexit supporters ahead.
Coveney said the impact on Greencore of a Brexit will be "negative, not catastrophic," with the pound and euro weakening against the dollar.
Greencore is the biggest Irish employer in the UK, with as many as 15,000 people in the country and producing more than 500 million pre-packed sandwiches a year.
Ireland would have to seek a trade deal with the UK in the event of a Brexit, he said.
"I have no idea how that would be achieved, but it would be madness not to try," Coveney said. "But that would be hard."
News by Bloomberg, edited by Checkout.