Brexit: Taoiseach says UK must not be isolated

Kenny tells MacGill Summer School of opposition to harsh departure arrangement

Enda Kenny: “I will be encouraging the new British prime minister to set realistic and achievable objectives to build confidence in the UK’s good faith.” Photograph: Bloomberg

Enda Kenny: “I will be encouraging the new British prime minister to set realistic and achievable objectives to build confidence in the UK’s good faith.” Photograph: Bloomberg

 

The Government will work to make sure the UK is not isolated in the European Union as it prepares a response to last month’s Brexit referendum, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Speaking at the MacGill Summer School last night, Mr Kenny said he has seen some reports that suggest European officials and institutions want to impose a harsh exit deal on Britain. “I don’t support that at all,” he said.

“Any perception that the UK is punished for a democratic decision would inflame growing populist backlash against further European integration.”

Mr Kenny said Ireland would seek a “constructive and positive” engagement between the EU and Britain around its departure.

However, Mr Kenny said this also depended “on the approach of the British government itself”.

“I will be encouraging the new British prime minister to set realistic and achievable objectives to build confidence in the UK’s good faith,” he said.

The Taoiseach reiterated that Ireland’s interests centred on the preservation of the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK, safeguarding the peace process and the protecting trade between the nations.

“Trade is going to be where it’s at,” he said.

Legal status

“The Common Travel Area has a legal status,” he said, suggesting that it was mentioned in the EU’s Treaty of Amsterdam. Further work to explore this was ongoing, he said.

“The closer the UK is to the EU, the better for all of us, and above all for Ireland,” Mr Kenny continued. “However, it will be up to the UK itself to work out what it wants to achieve and how it sees its future.”

Mr Kenny also spoke about the prospects for the current minority Government, saying it was a type of Government that has “never been tried before”.

He was sharing information with other party leaders, he said, and was working on the basis of “good faith”.

“Is it going to last? I say yes, of course.”