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Brexit ‘impossible' within two years says Taoiseach

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said Britain will not be able to 'cherrypick' its exit from the European Union. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Wire
Gareth McKeown

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has said it is "probably impossible" for the UK to leave the European Union within two years.

The Fine Gael leader has also warned that the UK will not be able to pick and choose aspects of the European Union it wants to keep during the exit process.

The UK voted to leave the European Union in a landmark vote on June 23 and British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will trigger Article 50, the mechanism for leaving the EU, by the end of March.

“One of the fundamental principles of participating in the EU is that if you want access to the most developed market in the planet - the single market you must cater for those freedoms one of which is freedom of movement of people,” Mr Kenny told Bloomberg news channel.

“There will be no concession given by Europe in that regard," he said.

The comments come after Brexit Secretary David Davis said on Thursday the UK would consider making contributions to the 28-nation union to secure the best possible access to the single market.

When asked about the time-frame for Britain's exit Mr Kenny said it was “probably impossible” to leave within the two years envisaged in the Lisbon Treaty and that an additional "transition period" was likely.

In the same interview the Taoiseach said Brexit had led to a "stream of enquiries" from British firms exploring the possibility of moving operations to Ireland.

When asked about the possibility of the European Banking Authority and the European Medical Agency potentially moving their headquarters from London to Ireland Mr Kenny confirmed they would compete for them, but said there were no plans to cut the the existing corporation tax of 12.5 per cent.

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