As a frequent traveller to the UK, Jess Kelly looks at the implications of a Brexit
I'm currently sitting in London City Airport, preparing to travel home from London Tech Week. It's hard not to think about the importance of today, as both an Irish and European citizen, as I wait for my gate to open. The ease of access to the UK is something I've never fully appreciated until today - the day when citizens will decide whether to stay or leave the EU.
I commute back and forth to London many times a year for work and am selfishly wondering what the implications of a Brexit might be on me, personally. While it's thought that there won't be passport control issues, nobody knows for sure.
I flew to London on Monday morning at 6.40am. The two people next to me pulled out spreadsheets and highlighters before we even took off. This was a work trip for them too. They told me they commute to London for day trips at least five times a month. The plane was full of people just like that. CityJet fly into London City Airport meaning Dubliners, like myself, can get to the heart of the city in less time than it would take to get a train to Galway.
We disembarked the aircraft and walked straight out of the building; no passport control, no messing around, just straight out the door. I was on the DLR less than five minutes later. The addition of passport control will, without a doubt, create a headache for business commuters.
If a business person is in London for eight hours, as is often the case, for meetings and so on, every second counts. Spending twenty minutes either side of the journey at passport control is an off putting thought.
I've spent much of this week with members of the Irish community, who either live or work here in London. The importance of our relationship with the capital city cannot be dismissed, no matter what your views on the referendum may be.
Speaking to me on Monday, Irish Ambassador to Great Britain, Dan Mulhall expressed his concerns about the implications of a Brexit:
"There are many risks involved. It's impossible to quantify the impact because nobody knows what the impact of Britain leaving the EU would be, it would depend on how the British government wants to move things forward, it would depend on how the EU responds to a vote like that. What we can say with confidence is though, is that there's a lot of risks and the best way to avoid those risks is for Britain to remain in the European Union. That's the point we've been making. This is a risky environment. It's a riskey thing for a country to leave the European Union for the first time ever. Remember, this will be the first time any country has ever left the European Union and that could have consequences which are difficult to measure, but we know they wouldn't be positive."
I went along to a Remain rally on Tuesday evening at Trafalgar Square. It was interesting to see the event had been organised by students, concerned about their future outside of the EU. They created a Facebook event, which received 4,000 interactions and hundreds of people showed up. The issues discussed at the rally were real. "What happens to us?" was a question I heard asked multiple times.
And so I sit and await my flight back to Dublin, waiting on the result that will determine the future of our closest trading partner and neighbour.
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