David Cameron has told the Taoiseach he will give “whatever help he can” in keeping an open border between Ireland and the North.
Enda Kenny spoke personally with the British prime minister on the fringes of the EU leaders crunch Brexit meeting this week.
Mr Kenny said he also raised Ireland’s unique position with EU leaders given its close ties in trade, commerce, and its land border with Britain.
Speaking after a meeting of EU leaders yesterday, Mr Kenny said: “I spoke to Prime Minister Cameron myself last night and he’s very clear that whatever help he can, whatever way he can, he will work towards the continuation of the common travel area and with respect of an open border given the peace process between ourselves and Northern Ireland.”
Mr Kenny said he used the meeting to point out the “very long history” between both countries but said that “relations are stronger than ever before” and added “the closer the relationships the EU are going to have with Britain the better for us”.
“Prime Minister Cameron appreciated that and members around the table understand our position there. But also I made the point that we have had a common travel area since 1922.
"Members around the table are well aware both of our relationship with Britain, the common travel area and the fact that the peace process has been so important for Northern Ireland — for our relations North and South and between Ireland and the UK. I reminded them of that last night and again this morning,” he said.
Mr Kenny also said Britain would not be able to access the single market without also taking on what are known as the four freedoms — goods, services labour and the free movement of people.
This could be a major stumbling block in future negotiations on Britain exiting the UK as immigration was a major point of contention in the run-up to the Brexit referendum.
This point was echoed by European Council president Donald Tusk who warned there would be “no single market à la carte” for the UK.
While European Commission president Jean- Claude Juncker said: “Those wanting access to our single market must implement the four freedoms without exceptions and without nuances.”
Mr Kenny said “there are different perspectives” among European leaders on how quickly Britain must leave the EU. He said issues around the future of the border would be discussed at the North-South meeting of ministers on Monday.
He said Tuesday’s summit which included David Cameron, and the breakfast meeting yesterday morning without him had been “very calm and very considered and very measured”.
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