Friday 20 April 2018

Kenny warns of 'serious' Brexit threat to economy

A Brexit will undermine our competitiveness and do 'serious damage' to Irish businesses, according to Enda Kenny. Photo: Simon Graham/PA Wire
A Brexit will undermine our competitiveness and do 'serious damage' to Irish businesses, according to Enda Kenny. Photo: Simon Graham/PA Wire
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

A 'Brexit' would undermine our competitiveness and do "serious damage" to Irish businesses, according to Enda Kenny.

The Taoiseach made the warning as he prepared to travel to the UK today for a series of engagements with the Irish community there.

The Fine Gael leader, who said he hopes that British voters choose to remain in the EU, is due to visit Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow.

However, it has emerged that the British prime minister David Cameron has pulled out of a joint engagement in Manchester.

Political sources in Dublin said the tightness of the referendum had led to a profound change of strategy among Mr Cameron's campaign team.

Campaigners believe that the key battle is the English regions, notably the midlands and north.

Read more: Irish rugby captain Rory Best urges voters to back Remain in Brexit referendum

Downing Street and the Remain Campaign have yet to comment on the reasons for Mr Cameron's decision to pull out of the planned event with Mr Kenny.

The Taoiseach addressed the prospect of a Brexit in the Dáil yesterday when he again warned of the prospect of the return of a "hard border" with Northern Ireland.

"We are co-guarantors in the Good Friday Agreement, we have a specific vested interest in the Irish communities and the fact that there are 200,000 Irish jobs here and €1.2bn trade across the Irish Sea every week," Mr Kenny said, adding that businesses here would be seriously damaged. His comments on the possible re-introduction of a hard border was echoed by Mr Cameron in Westminster who said a Brexit would mean either "new border controls" between the Republic and the North, or else "some sort of checks on people as they left Belfast or other parts of Northern Ireland to come to the rest of the United Kingdom".

Meanwhile Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has begun personally texting and phoning constituents in a bid to prevent a Brexit.

He has also sent out hundreds of letters to constituents in his Dublin West constituency with a British connection urging a vote to remain.

Today and tomorrow, Mr Kenny will address members of the Irish Community at St Michael's Community Centre in Liverpool; a British-Irish Chamber of Commerce Event at Grant Thornton in Manchester; and an Irish Community Event at the Irish World Heritage Centre in Manchester.

He will then attend the British-Irish Council in Glasgow on Friday afternoon.

Irish Independent

Business Newsletter

Read the leading stories from the world of Business.

Also in Business