UK to begin Brexit process early next year, says Enda Kenny

Taoiseach says indications coming from David Davis on triggering Article 50

Enda Kenny: Consideration of abortion issue by citizens’ assembly will take ’six, seven, eight’ months. Photograph: Reuters

Enda Kenny: Consideration of abortion issue by citizens’ assembly will take ’six, seven, eight’ months. Photograph: Reuters

 

It is likely British prime minster Theresa May will formally begin the process of exiting the European Union in January or February, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

Mr Kenny said although this had not been confirmed, the indications from the British government are that Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which begins the formal exit, will be triggered early next year.

The Taoiseach said indications the process would begin “probably” at the end of January or early February had come from David Davis, the UK secretary of state for Brexit, and James Brokenshire, the northern secretary.

Mr Davis and Mr Brokenshire met members of the Irish government in recent weeks.

The Taoiseach also said the upcoming budget will be “Brexit-proofed” and that Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will travel to London tomorrow to meet Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond.

Mr Kenny made the comments during a briefing with political correspondents in Government Buildings on Wednesday morning to provide an update on Government business ahead of the resumption of the Dáil next week.

Noonan’s health

He was also asked about Mr Noonan’s health, following the recent hospitalisation of the Minister.

Mr Kenny said Mr Noonan told him he would let him know if a time came when he had to step aside because he could not perform his duties. The Taoiseach said he accepted this.

Meanwhile, the Taoiseach said he expected consideration of the abortion issue to take “six, seven, eight” months. Its conclusions would then be considered by the Oireachtas and would go through a “process of expertise”. A free Dáil vote on the “matter of conscience” would then follow.

On the issue of his leadership of Fine Gael, Mr Kenny said the Government has a range of serious issues to address, adding: “We need all shoulders on the one wheel here.”

The Taoiseach also said he did not believe that Nama’s activities should be suspended, as has been called for by some members of the Opposition, following the controversy over the Project Eagle Northern Ireland loans.