LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the European Union will find it impossible to strike a full Brexit deal within the two-year period set for negotiations so a transition deal is inevitable, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said on Friday, Sky reported.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has said she will trigger the formal EU divorce talks by the end of March, ushering in a two-year period of negotiations before Britain leaves the club it joined in 1973.
May has pledged to address concerns that Britain could fall off a “cliff edge” into uncertain trading conditions when it leaves the bloc while her finance minister, Philip Hammond, has said Britain needs a smooth transition out of the EU.
“I would expect to see the ‘divorce’ as it’s called take place but that there be a transition period and then a new relationship founded between the UK and the European Union,” Kenny said.
“And that transition period will actually take longer than people expect,” he added.
“I think it would be impossible to do all of the negotiations inside of the contemplated two year period. That’s why I think there is a growing feeling in Europe that there should be a transition period and that transition period might well be longer than those two years – I think it will be.”
Kenny said Europe had not yet seen a coherent Brexit plan from Britain as there had been “different statements made by different people”, Sky reported.
(Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison)