Wednesday 24 January 2018

Brexit showdown: Kenny banking on Merkel’s support

■ Taoiseach meets key EU allies ahead of crunch talks

Ireland's Prime minister Enda Kenny arrives before an EU summit meeting in Brussels last night. Getty Images
Ireland's Prime minister Enda Kenny arrives before an EU summit meeting in Brussels last night. Getty Images
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is banking on the support of Europe's most powerful politician, Angela Merkel, as Ireland battles to survive collateral damage from Brexit.

The Government believes it has an ally in the German chancellor as it seeks special consideration in Europe for issues like the border and the Common Travel Area.

Mr Kenny met with leaders from the European People's Party (EPP) ahead of last night's crunch EU Council meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Ms Merkel is the most influential politician in a grouping that also includes 14 of Jean-Claude Juncker's commissioners, who could prove key allies in Ireland's fight.

Mr Kenny said afterwards his EPP colleagues are "well aware of Ireland's position". He will be banking on their support as Ireland fights to be protected, amid a clamour to 'punish' Britain among certain sections of Europe.

The stakes are huge as Mr Kenny begins perhaps the most significant battle of his political career.

Key concerns rest on the two nations' close economic relationship, as well as the Peace Process and the border with Northern Ireland.

"I will articulate, and our people will articulate, very strongly what our vital national interests here are," added the Taoiseach.

Mr Kenny will be acutely aware that Irish interests cannot become isolated at what he recently called "the most powerful table in our continent".

Ireland's Europe Minister Dara Murphy last night said that Mr Kenny and Ms Merkel were both "strongly of the view" that the British should be given time to replace Mr Cameron before the Brexit is initiated.

He said Ms Merkel "has been a vociferous supporter" of some of the principles that Ireland holds dear amid the chaos sparked by Brexit.

Yesterday began with bitter European Parliament exchanges, as UKIP leader Nigel Farage was booed and accused of lying during the referendum campaign.

The EU Council meeting continues today, but Mr Cameron will not attend.

Irish Independent

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