UK Brexit strategy gives protection to Common Travel Area

The document says the UK and Ireland are inescapably intertwined

UK Brexit strategy gives protection to Common Travel Area

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and British Prime Minister Theresa May at a joint press conference at Government Buildings in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

The UK has published its Brexit strategy, which pays special attention to Ireland.

The 77-page document expands on British Prime Minister Theresa May's speech last month, in which she set out a 12-point plan for dealing with the UK departure from the bloc.

Announcing the White Paper, Brexit Secretary David Davis said it set out the "Prime Minister's vision for a truly independent" Britain.

He said the document reiterates that the UK wants the EU to succeed and that it is essential for the UK to leave the single market and seek a "bold free trade agreement" and "frictionless" trade borders.

In a section which details the UK’s relationship with Ireland, the document says: “The UK and Ireland are inescapably intertwined through our shared history, culture and geography. It is a unique relationship.

“There are hundreds of thousands of Irish nationals residing in the UK and of UK nationals residing in Ireland. There are also close ties and family connections, particularly across the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.”

“The UK and Irish economies are deeply integrated, through trade and cross-border investments, as well as through the free flow of goods, utilities, services and people.

“We recognise that for the people of Northern Ireland and Ireland, the ability to move freely across the border is an essential part of daily life. When the UK leaves the EU we aim to have as seamless and frictionless a border as possible between Northern Ireland and Ireland”.

It also reiterates Britain’s commitment to the Belfast Agreement – which confirmed the right of the people of Northern Ireland to identify as British, or Irish, or both – and to hold citizenship accordingly.

“Since well before the establishment of the EU, Irish citizens have had a special status within the UK, rooted in the Ireland Act 1949 and reflected in the British Nationality Acts.

“This status provides Irish citizens in the UK with additional rights beyond those associated with common membership of the EU. Similar reciprocal arrangements exist for British citizens within Ireland”, it says.

“The government remains firmly committed to the Belfast Agreement and recognises the importance of maintaining the special status of Irish citizens within the UK.”

Common Travel Area

While in relation to the Common Travel Area between the two countries, the strategy notes: “It was formed long before the UK and Ireland were members of the EU and reflects the deep-rooted, historical ties provided for by the free movement of respective members’ nationals within the CTA and the synergies between our countries.

“We are committed to protecting this arrangement.”

The section adds: “Protocol 22 of the EU Treaties provides that the UK and Ireland may continue to make arrangements between themselves relating to the movement of people within the CTA.

“Nationals of CTA members can travel freely within the CTA to the UK without being subject to routine passport controls.”

In conclusion, it says: “We are determined that our record of collaboration, built on shared experience and values and supported by personal, political and economic ties, continues to develop and strengthen after we leave the EU.”

On Wednesday, MPs backed, by a majority of 384, the Article 50 bill that allows Mrs May to trigger EU divorce proceedings and start negotiations.

But it came amid a warning from the former UK ambassador to EU, Ivan Rogers, that the British government could face a €60bn bill from the EU just to get out of the exit door.

Additional reporting: IRN