Tuesday 22 May 2018

Two-year Brexit deadline could be extended if deal on EU-UK trade agreements not reached

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The two-year deadline for Britain to leave the EU may be extended if an EU agreement on trade cannot be reached, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

The Taoiseach said no official talks on Britain's relationship with the EU could begin until David Cameron's successor as British Prime Minister was elected and formally invoked Article 50, which is the point of no return for the UK.

This is due to take place in September but there is some speculation that the new prime minister may not immediately ask to leave the EU.

"There will be no negotiations between the UK and EU until such time as the Commission are informed by Britain of intention to withdraw from the union. The clock starts to tick from then," Mr Kenny said.

"The period then is a two-year period for those negotiations. There may be a short extension given to that towards the end.

"If it's not concluded within that time then it automatically moves on to the World Trade Organisation conditions for trade and so on."

The Taoiseach said the European Council meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday had been "very calm and measured".

"There was no sense of hysteria. The markets will inevitably adjust," he said.

He added that the deal would be agreed by the leaders of the remaining 27 member states and not the European Commission.

"What's best for Ireland's interests are that the UK would still have access to the single market. It was made perfectly clear by the European Council that access to the single market carries with it responsibility to accept in full the four principles of the European Union, one of which is the freedom of movement of people."

This comes as Finance Minsister Michael Noonan said it is "hard to get a fix on" the extent of the fallout that Brexit will bring.

He admitted it was impossible to prepare for the full impact of Brexit until a new British government was in place and an exit deal agreed with the EU.

"If the arrangement is full access to single market and free movement of goods and people then the impact will be quite low, maybe even to our advantage."

Meanwhile, Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been accused of putting the country's access to markets in danger and ignoring reality to pursue her own ideology.

In the Scottish Parliament Ms Sturgeon noted the importance of Ireland in the Brexit.

"I am sure that the Republic of Ireland will be seeking to make sure that, in whatever negotiations unfold, trade between it and the UK is protected," she said.


Ms Sturgeon insisted she was "standing up" for her country as criticism flowed in the Scottish Parliament yesterday.

This comes after Taoiseach Enda Kenny appealed to the European Council in Brussels on behalf of the Scottish First Minister. He said that Scotland "should not be dragged out of the EU".

However, speaking on Newstalk yesterday, Scottish UKIP MEP David Coburn said Mr Kenny should not interfere in internal British matters.

"I think Enda Kenny would be better off minding his own affairs, I don't think it's appreciated that he interferes in British internal matters," he told the Pat Kenny Show. "I represent that 40pc of Scots who voted to leave the EU - and there are more Scots who voted to remain in the UK in our referendum, than there were of people wanting to remain in the EU."

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