UK Working With Ireland on Post-Brexit Immigration Control
The UK is working with Ireland to “strengthen” its borders to tackle illegal immigration once Article 50 is triggered, according to a government official.
Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Northern Ireland (NI) secretary James Brokenshire said: “Our focus is to strengthen the external border of the common travel area (CTA), building on the strong collaboration with our Irish partners.”
The CTA allows for freedom of movement between people from Ireland and Britain.
However, what becomes of these arrangements once the UK leaves the EU, is a hot topic of discussion. Any border controls imposed on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland could be seen as a violation of the Good Friday agreement.
Instead, by introducing immigration controls to Irish entry points such as Dublin airport or Rosslare (sea) port this could avoid any potential violations. However, this could be seen as the UK not taking back “control of its borders” as many Brexit supporters have claimed as a positive reason for leaving the EU.
Brokenshire 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.
He added: “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.”
Ireland’s foreign minister, Charles Flanagan, told the Guardian that any stricter border controls between the UK and Ireland would have to be agreed with the EU member states.
“I caution that this will be a decision not just by the UK or Irish governments but ultimately also by the 27 EU states. I have been impressing on my fellow 26 EU foreign ministerial colleagues the importance of maintaining what is now an invisible border. I have to say there was among them a deep understanding of the consequences for the peace process of the reimposition of a heavily fortified border,” he added.