Ireland’s foreign minister warned that a hard Brexit, and a return to tough border controls, would risk peace in Northern Ireland.
The UK risks calling an end to the Common Travel Area, an open border arrangement between the Britain and Ireland, in its desire for more immigration controls, Charlie Flanagan, told The Telegraph in an interview.
“The concept of a ‘hard’ Brexit, with a return to ‘hard’ borders is not something that is either desirable or workable from our perspective, because of the border with Northern Ireland,” Flanagan, who is also Ireland’s minister responsible for trade, said.
“The peace dividend of the ‘invisible border’ cannot be underestimated,” he said.
The Common Travel Area was agreed in 1923 and sees 30,000 border crossings a day, according to the Telegraph. Prime Minister Theresa May gave assurances that the UK wouldn’t impose border controls in Northern Ireland and that peace was her “highest priority” in a visit to Belfast in July.
But the tone of Theresa May’s government on immigration and border controls has become progressively tougher, causing foreign governments and companies to worry that the UK will leave the European Union without any special agreements on trade or free movement of people — a so-called hard Brexit.
It is the second warning in a week for the UK that a hard Brexit could do long-term damage. On Tuesday, one of Japan’s most senior business ambassadors said Japanese firms have already received offers to move their operations out of the UK from other European countries in the wake of the June Brexit vote.
The lack of clarity over how much European market access the UK will push for during Brexit negotiations has forced Japanese companies to postpone investment decisions, Haruki Hayashi, the president of the Japanese chamber of commerce in the UK said, according to a report in the Guardian.