Government angry at Theresa May’s Brexit reticence

The Taoiseach has put his Cabinet and junior ministers on “24 hours’ notice” to return to Ireland from their St Patrick’s Day trips in the event of Brexit being triggered during their absence.

Considerable anger has been expressed within the Government over the likely triggering of Article 50 this week, possibly as early as tomorrow, at a time when Irish ministers are scattered all over the globe.

The refusal of British prime minister Theresa May to tell Enda Kenny in a face to face meeting last week her intentions as to when the formal EU exit will begin has also sparked fury.

The Irish Examiner has learned that ministers who are travelling abroad have been told to be ready to abandon their agendas should Mr Kenny deem it necessary for them to return.

Speaking in Philadelphia, Mr Kenny again signalled his annoyance at the lack of a signal from Ms May.

“When I spoke to the British prime minister last Thursday she didn’t actually commit to a date,” he said.

“The European Union will respond to that [Article 50] and will issue guidelines within 48 hours if it is triggered this week.

“The meeting of the European Council to approve the negotiating stance of the European Union and the guidelines to be adopted will be on April 6.”

He said triggering Article 50 involves the writing of a letter from the British government to the president of the European Council.

“That’s always within the remit of the country that intends to leave, in this case Britain,” he said.

Mr Kenny sought to play down concerns about the lack of contingency planning should the negotiations between Britain and the EU fail to reach agreement.

“Article 50 is very clear and the law is very clear,” he said. “When you trigger Article 50, if you have not concluded your divorce proceedings within two years, you are automatically gone unless an extension of time is given by unanimous approval of the European Council which I assume would be forthcoming.”

Fianna Fáil Brexit spokesman Stephen Donnelly said Mr Kenny and his officials should be in Dublin to deal with the biggest challenge in the history of the State.

“Ideally, if she triggers Article 50 on Tuesday we should be having a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday,” he said. “It is material for the Cabinet to not being around but we shouldn’t also be hanging around for Theresa May to make up her mind.”

Mr Donnelly said the greatest impediment to Ireland being ready for Brexit was the internal Fine Gael race to succeed Mr Kenny.

“Internal Fine Gael politics is the big distraction,” he said. “Our Cabinet is not going to be focused on Brexit for the next eight to 12 weeks.”


Related Articles

If EU punishes UK then trade talks get complicated warns British Minister

Europe agrees no physical border between Republic of Ireland and the North, says Theresa May

Taoiseach welcomes Theresa May's 'strengthened language' against physical border with North

Theresa May plea to EU for Brexit deal 'we can defend to our people'

More in this Section

No Government jet for freed Halawa

Garda officers may sue for right to strike

Rail unions vote for industrial action

‘We are on our knees after this ... we need help’


Breaking Stories

Police hailed for bravery after rescuing man from car in Lough Neagh

Refurbished Bewley's Café 'to feature chocolate factory and bakery'

Locals in Belfast suburb heard murdered woman's screams, says MLA

Party to celebrate history of Moore Street today

Lifestyle

A helicopter put a piano on the 150-foot roof of Blarney Castle and other stories from the Cork Jazz Festival archives

Jazz Memories: Famous faces share their favourite moments

Live music review: The Horrors - Icy genius in a thrillingly intimate setting

New book revisits the games they just don't make anymore

More From The Irish Examiner