Britain seeks invisible border for Northern Ireland in Brexit negotiations

The British government seeks to have a seamless and frictionless border, without any physical border infrastructure and border posts between Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Aug 16, 2017 15:09 IST
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The British government has sought to not have any border posts between Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland after Brexit.

Britain, as a part of its negotiations with the European Union on its exit, said that it wanted a seamless and frictionless border without physical border infrastructure and border posts.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that will share a land border with a European Union member state when Britain leaves the EU in March 2019. Hence, management of the border is a highly sensitive issue and one of three main priorities in the Brexit negotiations.

Conflict & Tension

• The true lineage of the region of Northern Ireland and its people has always been contested upon and is particularly sensitive. While some of its citizens identify as Irish, others identify as British.

• The country was created in 1921 when Ireland was partitioned between Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland by an act of the British parliament with the former remaining within the UK and latter becoming a free state.

• Ever since it came into existence, Northern Ireland has been victim to violence over whether it should be a part of Britain or Ireland.

• Around 30,000 people cross the 500-kilometre border every day without customs or immigration checks.

• Hence, the Brexit negotiators will have to carefully work out how to tighten controls without giving rise to tensions in the region.

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Further, the British government has proposed new customs arrangements that would allow free flow of goods. Among the two options put forward by the nation, the first involves no customs border at all, while the second involves highly-streamlined customs checks.

Besides this, Britain also wants to maintain a Common Travel Area, a pact that allows free movement between the United Kingdom and Ireland for British and Irish citizens. It also rejected the idea of a customs border in the Irish Sea that separates England, Wales and Scotland from Ireland and Northern Ireland, saying that it was not constitutionally or economically viable.

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