Taoiseach says no need for Britain to start Brexit process 'until at least October'
There is no need for Britain to begin the process of leaving the European Union until at least October, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.
In his first statement since the referendum result, Mr Kenny went against senior EU officials who said Britain must act immediately to initiate the two year process of exiting.
Speaking after an emergency Cabinet meeting, the Taoiseach said it was Britain’s “prerogative” to decide when to activate the so-called Article 50.
He backed David Cameron’s approach, saying: “These negotiations may not commence for some months yet, and will take a considerable amount of time to complete. In that regard, it is important to stress that Britain remains a member of the European Union until negotiations have been concluded.
“We must take this breathing space...and use it wisely.”
The Taoiseach went on to say Ireland staying in the European Union despite a Brexit is “profoundly in our national interest”.
The Government will publish key details of their contingency plan later today, adding: “Our primary objective remains to protect and advance this country’s interests.”
He said the “short term market volatility will be carefully managed” and the Finance Minister is in close contact with the Central Bank, NTMA and other international partners.
“I want to assure the Irish public that we have prepared to the greatest extent possible for this eventuality.
“There will be no immediate change to the free flow of people, goods and services between our islands,” Mr Kenny said.
“We have previously set out our main concerns in the event of Brexit. These relate to the potential impacts for trade and the economy, for Northern Ireland, for the common travel area and for the European Union itself.”
On Northern Ireland, the Taoiseach said the implications will “require careful consideration”.
“We will approach these issues in the same spirit of partnership that has underpinned the peace process and has transformed relationships on this island since the Good Friday Agreement.
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s clear statement that Northern Ireland’s interests will be fully reflected in the British Government’s negotiating position,” he said.
Mr Kenny will meet with members of the Northern Executive on Monday week and hold detailed discussions.
“In the medium term a related concern is that of the Common Travel Area between Britain and Ireland.
“For our part, the Irish Government will do our utmost in upcoming discussions to maintain the Common Travel Area and minimise any possible disruptions to the flow of people, goods and services between these islands,” Mr Kenny said.
“Ireland will, of course, remain a member of the European Union.
“That is profoundly in our national interest.
“After more than 40 years of membership, we have built up strong bonds of partnership with all the other member states, and with the European institutions, that will continue to serve us well. We must now begin a period of reflection and debate on how we can renew the Union of 27 and equip it for the challenges ahead,” Mr Kenny said