Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny spoke to Matheson in New York about Brexit negotiations and the impact it’ll have on trade and business.
In the Matheson interview, Kenny says that negotiations would not be complete by 2019 in relation to the UK leaving the EU.
“These discussions will not be concluded by 2019. Therefore, you need a transition period and in my view that transition period should be as long as is necessary to conclude an effective working agreement in the interests of everybody. It’s not sufficient that Britain can say we’ll look for the best deal for Britain. There are 27 other countries on the other side of the table who have worked with Britain for many years who also want an effective working outcome to this.”
The interviewer, Partner at Matheson, Liz Grace, asks the former Taoiseach to outline what his view of a ‘hard Brexit’ would be. He said “potentially catastrophic” and that talks on Brexit need to progress as companies need more certainty for their day-to-day operations.
“We are an island nation, we have to export up to 90% of what we produce and for American investment, or foreign direct investment, which Matheson deals with on a regular basis, stability and certainty is critical”, said Enda Kenny.
Michael Jackson, Managing Partner at Matheson, spoke of the transition period and the possible length of an implementation period: “Regardless of what agreement is reached, a two-year transition period will be too short. Two years is the average transition time for a single EU directive that has to be implemented by companies. We’re talking about something that’s much bigger and much more unprecedented here. I personally believe it’s going to take anything up to five years to properly transition.”
Kenny also went on to say that the Irish corporation tax rate was non-negotiable and that “nobody [could] order us or tell us” to renegotiate our corporation tax rate.
He had a lot to say on the border issue: “We will not stand, and the Taoiseach has outlined this now, for a situation of a return to a border of the past. Prime Minister Cameron accepted this, Prime Minister May accepts this, but there needs to be a unique solution to an unprecedented problem. The situation that we have at the moment is that the border is only political. It is invisible. People cross that in their thousands every day to do business and go about their daily work. Products, manufacturing, business conducted north-south, that’s the way the people of the North and the people of the South want it to continue. The answer lies wherever the imagination of the British government can be in bringing about a working effective, non-obstructive solution. That’s what we have at the moment; that’s what we’d like to continue.”
See Matheson’s full interview with the former Taoiseach below: