Sunday 22 July 2018

May set to propose special Brexit deal allowing Irish to work in UK

Theresa May. Photo: REUTERS
Theresa May. Photo: REUTERS
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

A Brexit deal to allow free movement of people between Ireland and the UK with a "light-touch customs regime" is to be proposed by the British government.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will this week publish a policy paper on Anglo- Irish relations which suggests the two countries could adopt a 'Schengen area'.

This would allow Irish citizens to work freely in the UK, and British citizens would work freely in Ireland.

Citizens of other EU countries could access the UK over the Irish Border but would not be able to work in Britain without a work permit.

The idea is being carefully studied by Irish officials but does create a Border which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he does not want.

The UK's Brexit department said it will reveal more details of its favoured customs arrangement and a proposal on how to resolve the difficulties of a non-physical Border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

"We've been crystal clear that issues around our withdrawal and our future partnership are inextricably linked," a source in Britain's Brexit department said.

Britain appears on track for a so-called 'hard Brexit' after chancellor Philip Hammond and International Trade Secretary Liam Fox wrote a joint article saying the UK would not be staying in the EU by a "back door".

"We are both clear that during this period the UK will be outside the customs union and will be a 'third country', not a party to EU treaties," they said.

The contribution of Mr Hammond is seen as significant as he is believed to favour a soft Brexit that would have safeguards in place for businesses.

Along with a new paper on Irish issues, the UK government is preparing to release papers to address "continuity in the availability of goods for the EU and the UK" and "confidentiality and access to official documents".

It then wants the EU to move forward to the next phase of the Brexit negotiations which will deal with the future relationship been the UK and member states.

"We need to get on with negotiating the bigger issues around our future partnership to ensure we get a deal that delivers a strong UK and EU," Brexit Minister David Davis said in a statement.

Brussels has insisted that progress must be made on divorce arrangements first, including how much the UK will pay before leaving.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier is due to meet Mr Davis for a new round of negotiations at the end of August.

Amid talks of in-fighting within Mrs May's cabinet, pro-Brexit Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson welcomed the joint article from Mr Hammond and Mr Fox, saying it was the "right way forward".

Irish Independent

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