Sunday 19 August 2018

Enda Kenny 'appalled' by British government handling of Brexit negotiations

Former Taoiseach said Theresa May's Cabinet is “driven by internal dissent, lacks credibility and clarity on its most serious challenge in decades”

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny Picture: Reuters
Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny Picture: Reuters

Kevin Doyle, Group Political Editor

FORMER Taoiseach Enda Kenny launched an unprecedented attack on the British political system as he was awarded ‘European of the Year’ today.

In his first major speech since stepping down as Taoiseach exactly one year, Mr Kenny said he is “appalled” by the way Theresa May’s government has handled the Brexit negotiations.

He said her Cabinet is “driven by internal dissent, lacks credibility and clarity on its most serious challenge in decades”.

The Mayo TD was central to the early stages of the negotiations before handing over the reigns to Leo Varadkar.

He was honoured today for ensuring Ireland gained a place at the centre of the Brexit talks.

Mr Varadkar presented his predecessor with the award on behalf of the European Movement in Ireland.

"Enda Kenny is someone who has always stood up for Ireland, and for Europe. Right from the start, he displayed a positive, consistently optimistic approach to solving problems, backed by a steely resolve which came to stand the country, and the EU, in very good stead,” Mr Varadkar said.

In his own contribution at the Shelbourne Hotel, Mr Kenny spoke more freely than he had ever done while in office.

He said that six months on from what was seen as a major Brexit breakthrough last December “very little progress has been made”.

“The EU continue to negotiate from a unified position.

“British business is afraid to speak out because of the spectre of a Labour government.

“But if this matter is not dealt with, and if negotiations have not been concluded and signed off before the EU Council in October then the worst outcome would obtain,” he said.

Mr Kenny urged EU leaders to consider a special EU Council meeting in early October to consider solely Brexit issues.

“My advice to the Taoiseach on this issue is to keep your senior team very active, to track every issue, to move forward as a strong team keeping very clear objectives in mind.

“That way we send out a message not just about who we are but also about who we are not,” he said.

Mr Kenny also warned about the rise of populism across the world.

“Across Europe, and the world, there is the rise of 'Us and them', the impeccable, calm logic of America or Hungary or Italy First,” he said.

“But there are still enough who know and celebrate the difference between Patriotism and Nationalism.

“How Patriotism burns quietly, furiously in the human heart,

“How aggressive Nationalism sets fire to decency, responsibility, memory, even humanity itself.”

Online Editors

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section