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Friday 15 December 2017

'Brexit deal not possible in two years' - Kenny

Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Steve Humphreys
Taoiseach Enda Kenny Photo: Steve Humphreys
Niall O'Connor

Niall O'Connor

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he believes it would be "impossible" for the UK to thrash out a Brexit deal with the EU within two years, in a move that put pressure on British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Mr Kenny said such a deal will take "longer than expected" and will not be signed within the two-year period that begins once Article 50 is triggered.

Ms May was criticised by both the North's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for failing to turn up at the British Irish Council summit in Cardiff.

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland James Brokenshire represented Downing Street.

The issue of the Border was top of the agenda at the meeting - with Mr Kenny warning of serious difficulties if any change is made to the current structures. "Clearly the imposition of tariffs and border checks would be of enormous inconvenience - time-wasting, delays, lack of investment and costing jobs at the end," he said in an interview with 'Sky News'.

Meanwhile, tensions resurfaced between Mr Kenny and the North's First Minister Arlene Foster. The DUP leader took a swipe at Mr Kenny following remarks he made about the issue of a United Ireland. The Fine Gael leader is said to have signalled the prospect of such a scenario unfolding.

At a press conference yesterday following the sitting of the council in Cardiff, Ms Foster described the issue as a "non-story". Pointing towards Mr Kenny - who was sitting three seats away - Ms Foster remarked that "Enda loves it" when the issue is brought up.

Mr Kenny shook his head in disapproval and said: "I don't".

"Periodically this comes up and I'm sure Enda loves it coming up...The reality is the test has not been met and therefore a Border poll will not be called," Ms Foster said.

The Taoiseach went on to rule out the prospect of a border poll in the near future. "There is no indication that a Border poll would succeed now. We have enough on our plates at the moment to deal with Brexit and the many challenges that arise from many other issues," he said.

Irish Independent

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