The British government plans to introduce passport and customs controls with the Republic of Ireland after 2019.
A leaked British government “position paper” seen by the Irish and British media suggests that the transport of goods and the movement people will be checked on the border after the UK leaves the European Union.
The position paper is one of three that will be published this week.
The new Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, has warned his British counterpart Theresa May to abandon hard Brexit plans. The Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland has clearly stated he does not intend to work for a hard Brexit border.
The UK has previously promised detailed proposals for a new customs arrangement with the Republic. However, the paper falls short of that promise, arguing that the nature of the border between the North of Ireland and the Republic cannot be addressed before the future trade relations between the EU and the UK has been determined. Therefore, the paper offers vague references to the use of technology to make the trade in goods appear seamless or “frictionless.”
What is certain is that the North of Ireland and the Republic will not have a common market and/or customs’ regime. In a joint letter to the Sunday Telegraph, Chancellor Philip Hammond and international trade secretary Liam Fox confirmed that the UK will leave both the customs union and the single market in March 2019, confirming the hard Brexit scenario.
That means that Dublin and London could be soon colliding on the future of Northern Ireland, a clash underscored by the far-right Democratic Unionist Party lending their support to Theresa May’s government.
The other two papers to be published this week will address concerns about the trade in goods and freedom of information after Brexit. These papers are meant to convey something that resembles a Brexit plan, ahead of the resumption of negotiations in Septembers and October’s European Council.