Possible implications for the Irish horse racing and breeding industries

Following a nationwide referendum, which attracted a turnout of 71.8% (over 30 million voters) on June 23 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU by a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%.  

On March 29 2017, UK Prime Minister Theresa May invoked Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the legal process for leaving the EU, which provided the time frame of two years for the UK and the EU to agree the terms of the split.  

Therefore, the UK is scheduled to leave the EU at 11pm on March 29 2019.  After a protracted period of negotiation, the UK and the EU agreed a Brexit deal in the form of a 585-page Withdrawal Agreement.    

Although accepted by the UK cabinet on November 14 2018, the UK parliament overwhelmingly rejected the deal on January 15 2019.  Potential scenarios from this point include re-negotiating with the EU (most likely through an extension of Article 50); a second referendum; or the UK leaving the EU on March 29 2019 with no deal.  

Full trade talks can only begin between the UK and the EU following Brexit (while the UK is a member state, such talks are not permitted under EU law) and will be facilitated by a transition period running until December 31 2020.  If the full UK-EU Trade Deal is not agreed by this point – given the protracted nature and possible complications involved in such talks – the draft withdrawal treaty also establishes that the transition period could be extended up to December 31 2022.  

Brexit could have serious consequences for the Irish racing breeding industries.


If no form of association, or treaty, is agreed between the EU and the UK, either when the UK leaves the EU on 29th March 2019, or at the end of any transition period, this is what is known as a ‘no deal’ exit.

Learn more about how Irish trainers could be impacted by Brexit in this RTE report from Gordon Elliott's yard in County Meath: