The former taoiseach told a New York audience that the UK has not drafted trade deals for 40 years.
“This transition period will last much longer than people imagine,” Mr Kenny said, speaking at an event in New York organised by Matheson solicitors.
The transition period, he said, “has to be as long as is necessary”.
The managing partner of Matheson, Michael Jackson, said the two-year period “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,” he said.
Asked how he would describe the consequences of a hard Brexit, Mr Kenny replied “potentially catastrophic”.
The UK will “probably not” be able to conclude enough trade agreements with third countries to compensate for the loss of access to the single market, he said.
“The United Kingdom has not drafted any trade agreement with any country in the last 40 years,” the former taoiseach said.
“It took seven years to put the Ceta agreement in place with Canada. And Canada is a country that’s very easy to deal with.”
Years to negotiate
The UK’s trade agreements, he said, “will take years to negotiate in detail”.
Mr Kenny emphasised that the Irish corporation tax rate was “non-negotiatable”, and could not be interfered with as a matter of EU law.
“Nobody can tell us or order us to change the rate of corporation tax,” he said.
Mr Kenny said it was important that the Brexit talks achieved some progress as companies needed to have certainty and clarity about the exit and the transition by early next year.
“Companies will make decisions about where they’re going to be in the spring for the next three to five years,” he said. [...]
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