Minister delivers strongest hint yet that British border checks will be carried out in IRELAND after Brexit, despite the country being covered by EU freedom of movement rules
- Government considering how to handle border with Ireland post-Brexit
- Scrapping Common Travel Area could breach Good Friday Agreement
- Plan would see checks conducted in Ireland and no extra scrutiny in UK
A senior minister has dropped the strongest hint yet that Ireland is set to become the UK's front line for border checks after we leave the EU.
Britain is hoping to rely on beefed-up controls at the Republic's ports and airports in order to avoid the return of a 'hard border' with Northern Ireland.
The measures could mean EU nationals coming into Ireland under free movement rules and then travelling to the UK without facing any additional scrutiny.
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire has suggested Ireland's borders could be strengthened to avoid the need for a 'hard' border with Northern Ireland after Brexit
The issue of the divide between Ireland and the UK after Brexit is regarded as one of the thorniest facing the government.
There has been a common travel area (CTA) since the 1920s, and many believe a return to a 'hard' controlled 300-mile border would breach the Good Friday Agreement.
Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire told The Guardian that Ireland's external borders would be strengthened in order to combat illegal migration once the UK withdraws from the EU.
Mr Brokenshire said there was a 'high level of collaboration on a joint programme of work' under way between the two countries to control immigration.
'We have put in place a range of measures to further combat illegal migration working closely with the Irish government. Our focus is to strengthen the external border of the common travel area, building on the strong collaboration with our Irish partners,' he said.
'We are already working closely with the Irish government and other members of the common travel area to prevent people from seeking to evade UK immigration controls from entering via another part of the CTA.
The issue of how to introduce passport controls after Brexit without installing a hard border with Ireland is one of the trickiest facing the government
'There is a high level of collaboration on a joint programme of work. This includes investment in border procedures; increased data sharing to inform immigration and border security decisions; passenger data systems enabling the collection and processing of advance passenger information; and harmonised visa processes.'
Attempts to use Irish entry points such as Dublin Airport and Rosslare port as the front line of British immigration controls could prove highly controversial in the Republic.
The measures will be aimed primarily at non-Europeans, as EU citizens will have automatic rights to enter the Republic.
At present Chinese and Indian visitors apply for a single visa enabling them to visit both Britain and Ireland.
According to the Guardian, Dan Mulhall, the Irish ambassador to Britain, previously told the House of Lords: 'For as long as Ireland is not part of Schengen, everyone coming into Ireland from continental Europe and beyond has to go through passport control at our airports and ports.
Therefore, the only people who will have the right of free movement into Ireland and the right to live, work, visit and settle in Ireland will be European Union citizens.
'It is, of course, true that an EU citizen could come to Ireland after Brexit, settle in Ireland and then decide to go across the border to Northern Ireland and then to Britain, but they would be illegal immigrants. As I understand, most Europeans are not interested in being illegal in any European country It seems to me that only a relatively small number of European Union citizens would want to come to the UK illegally.'
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