Enda Kenny told his party that he left British prime minister Theresa May in “no doubt” this week when she visited Dublin that Ireland “would not stand” for a hard border with the North after Brexit.
Speaking to the Fine Gael parliamentary party last night, Mr Kenny also ruled out appointing a Brexit minister. This is despite a number of Fine Gael TDs, businesses, and other groups and parties calling for one.
TDs at the meeting last night were spoken to by Mr Kenny about Brexit for half an hour, ahead of the Taoiseach travelling to Malta tomorrow for an informal EU summit with other leaders.
Party sources confirmed Mr Kenny told the meeting he left Ms May in “no doubt” when she came to Government Buildings that Ireland would “not stand” for a border returning between the south and the north.
Other sources confirmed Mr Kenny had explained he had made his point very “strongly” to Ms May. She in turn had accepted his points, but did not give a specific reply, he told TDs,
Since the prime minister’s speech on Brexit last month, there are concerns Britain’s decision to leave the EU customs union could see Brussels insisting on a hard border with the North.
During the weekly meeting in Leinster House last night, Mr Kenny also said there would be no Brexit minister appointed.
A number of Fine Gael TDs earlier this week said one should be appointed, as Mr Kenny was very busy and an individual Brexit minister would better help Ireland’s interests. Businesses also want one, as do three in four voters, according to a weekend poll.
However, Mr Kenny told his party the Government was acting as one collective unit when it came to addressing Brexit. Ministers have also agreed to regularly update the party meeting about Brexit developments over the coming weeks.
MEP Mairead McGuinness also told the meeting in Leinster House that it was important to use our allies among the 27 member states when it came to the Brexit negotiations and that care had to be taken with the language used during talks.
Mr Kenny will travel to Malta tomorrow for an informal EU summit. He told Fine Gael TDs, MEPs, and senators that he would continue to press his counterparts about Ireland’s need to be treated differently and for a satisfactory outcome from the Brexit talks.
Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar was yesterday in London for talks with his counterparts about Brexit and welfare changes for people.
“We often talk about the impact of Brexit on business, but I think it’s important that we also talk about the impact on people. There are 681,000 Irish-born residents living in the UK, of whom 14,000 claim some form of benefit or welfare,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mr Kenny said that he would be travelling to Washington to the White House for St Patrick’s Day, despite anger of the recent US immigrant ban.
However, he said the visit to meet President Donald Trump would not be as “celebratory” as previous trips.
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