Brexit: UK plans to keep visa-free travel for EU nationals
Rather than border control, the UK Government believes restricting the availability of jobs to EU nationals and access to social security bring down immigration numbers
European nationals will still be able to pass freely without passport checks between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland after the UK’s departure from the EU, under new Government plans.
It comes after officials published the second Brexit negotiating position paper on the contentious issue of the Irish border, which includes preserving the Common Travel Area between the two countries.
Due to the Government’s insistence that there must be “no return to the hard borders of the past” and that no physical border will be erected between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, EU citizens will be able to travel freely between them and into the rest of the UK.
According to reports in The Times, an anticipated plan by the Home Office on post-Brexit migration will add that there will be no extra curbs on EU citizens travelling to Britain through airports and ports.
The BBC added it would mean visitors from the bloc would only need permission to work, study or settle in the UK.
In practice it will mean there will be no passport checks, no CCTV cameras, and no checkpoints at the 300-mile border for EU nationals – despite repeated promises of “taking back control” of the UK’s borders after Brexit during the referendum campaign last year.
Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, accused the Government of “bowing to EU demands”, adding: “The operation of the land border between the north and south should be none of their business.
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“That the Government would willingly allow EU national to freely move into UK territory is of concern”.
The Government, however, believes restricting the availability of jobs to EU nationals and access to social security will deter many from making the journey.
Speaking on Wednesday, Theresa May repeated her insistence that the UK Government does not want to “see a return the borders of the past” and that “we are able to ensure the crucial flow of goods and people between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is able to continue in the future”.
She added: “I want people to be absolutely clear: the UK does not want to see border posts for any purpose”.
The issue of the Irish border is one of three high priority “phase one” negotiations in the Brexit talks, along with citizens’ rights and the financial settlement – often referred to as the divorce bill. In order to begin talk on a future relationship with the EU and a trade deal, “sufficient progress” must be made in these three areas before autumn.
The Prime Minister also confirmed on Wednesday that Northern Irish citizens will still be able to benefit from EU citizenship rights after Brexit in order to protect the Good Friday peace accord, which included the right to claim Irish citizenship.
As the Irish Republic will remain within the EU after the UK leaves, Northern Irish people who hold an Irish citizenship will also continue to benefit from the EU rights that flow from that.