The Government has set out proposals that it hopes will maintain a “frictionless and seamless” border between Northern Ireland and the Republic when the UK leaves the EU.
A position paper released today details the proposals and stresses that a physical border should be avoided and that there should be no physical infrastructure such as customs posts after Brexit.
The government is committed to maintaining a border-free Common Travel Area covering the UK and the Republic of Ireland as it is seen as essential to preserving the Good Friday peace agreement.
The Prime Minster said she wanted to maintain the ‘special ties between the UK and Ireland’ and that no one voted to undermine the unique arrangements between Ireland and Northern Ireland ‘which have underpinned the peace process and have been in place well before our membership of the EU.’
Instead the government will seek a series of wide-ranging exemptions for goods and people crossing the Norther Ireland border as it pursues goal of avoiding EU border posts.
“We don’t want to see a border between parts of the United Kingdom,” Prime Minister Theresa May said.
“What we want to see is an arrangement in relation to customs and borders with the European Union which will enable us to see no return to the hard borders of the past in Northern Ireland, to enable that flow of goods and people between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
“That’s not just in the interests of Northern Ireland and the UK, it’s in the interests of the Republic of Ireland and the European Union too.”
Over 30,000 people cross the Ireland-Northern Ireland border daily without customs or immigration checks. Negotiators are working to ensure that border controls are tightened after Brexit without inflaming tensions in a region where thousands of people were killed before a peace agreement in 1998.
The paper also says the Government wants the Good Friday Agreement written into EU withdrawal agreement.