While it is vitally important that we recognise the context of our land border with the Republic of Ireland: When we leave the European Union, we will do so in exactly the same manner in which we entered the Common Market in 1973- as one United Kingdom: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
When we exit, the Government will have to work closely with the Government of the Irish Republic to ensure mature and sensible co-operation within the context of existing arrangements and the common travel area.
The nature of trade, both domestically across the UK, and across the land border with the Republic highlights the importance of finding a practical solution that protects businesses’ ability to access these markets, and avoids a hard border.
It’s undeniable that for each part of the UK, our most important trade, social and cultural relationships are those here – with the rest of this nation. There should be no new hurdles, or ‘special arrangements’ being introduced that would be a barrier between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland.
We have had a Common Travel Area (*CTA) that has operated since the 1920s. As things stand, the internal borders are subject to minimal controls and can normally be crossed by British and Irish citizens.
In order to allay the understandable fears regarding the potential for cross-border crime and abuse of the CTA, Digital checks using the latest technology would be a sensible way of enhancing security with minimal fuss. In fact, in 2011 the British and Irish Governments released a joint statement which proposed exactly that; the future development of an “electronic management system to combat the abuse of the CTA.”
As the European Union is also in favour of implementing digital checking systems elsewhere in Europe; shouldn’t we expect Brussels to be fair and sensible in its treatment of this border?
Our economy is strong with £1 trillion-worth of UK finance supporting European businesses and jobs. The UK is also critical to the defence of Europe from the threat of terror.
Therefore, this ‘negotiation period’ should have been an opportunity for the Government to set out its stall in establishing the UK as a confident, outward-looking and Independent UK. Instead; indecision, confusion and a perceived weakness has allowed those still smarting from being on the wrong side of the referendum result to set the agenda; reopening old arguments and refighting old battles.
Their latest cheap trick is to ramp up the rhetoric and try use Northern Ireland and the Irish border as a weapon to derail our Exit from the EU. When EU President, Donald Tusk publicly announced that Irish Prime Minister Varadkar would have a veto on Britain’s “deal” with the EU – that should have been the final straw for Theresa May. The EU has no business attempting to interfere in the internal arrangements of the United Kingdom. Our Prime Minister’s response to this to date has been silence.
Does Mrs. May really believe she can negotiate a good deal with these people? Are the EU behaving like reasonable and well meaning negotiators? She should call their bluff and walk away now. Pull the plug on these negotiations and start making new relationships and deals with the Commonwealth and the rest of the world tomorrow.
Our Government needs to step up and deliver on what the people voted for on the 23rd of June last year: Leave means leave.