Brexit cross-Border pension fears have been overplayed
Reports that payments were in peril caused unnecessary alarm for thousands of people
A man holds an anti-Brexit banner on Westminster Bridge in London. Photograph: Yves Herman/File Photo/Reuters
Brexit is proving even more of a headache than most people had anticipated. And the closer the deadline for agreement looms, the higher the risk that the whole thing might collapse.
That would usher in the dreaded “no deal” hard Brexit. Aside from a few head cases, such as Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg and his fellow travellers, such a scenario would be uniformly greeted as a failure and a disaster – both for the UK and for Ireland and its remaining European Union partners.
The stakes are high. All the more reason not to engage in scaremongering.
Reports this week that cross-Border pension payments were in peril caused unnecessary alarm among thousands of people living in both jurisdictions who rely for their income on pension and other welfare payments – such as child benefit – across the Border.
With thousands of critical linkages across every facet of business and personal life having to be reconfigured after 45 years of common EU membership, you could run a similar headline daily. But that ignores the work that is going on behind the scenes to make sure that when the formal rupture eventually occurs, with or without a deal, it will be as painless and seamless as possible.
In relation to social insurance payments, or stamps, it is possibly less complicated than many other areas. The sort of reciprocal arrangements that apply across EU states – such as between Britain and Ireland – apply also with other countries outside the bloc, such as the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, under a series of bilateral agreements.
Replicating that across the Ireland-Britain divide should be less taxing than some of the other challenges Brexit presents.
Is there a threat of disruption? To some extent yes, not least because the British government has dragged its feet so carelessly. But not the Armageddon scenario raised this week.
Brexit is a massive project – in complexity, certainly far beyond the comprehension of those who first championed it for narrow political purpose. There is trouble enough ahead without scaring people witless .