Future of Border fudged in 750,000 Brexit information leaflets

Leaflets distributed to 5,000 public offices to help public prepare for UK’s exit from EU

The information leaflets say that avoiding a hard border remains a priority for the Government “in all circumstances”. Photographer: Bryn Colton/Bloomberg

The information leaflets say that avoiding a hard border remains a priority for the Government “in all circumstances”. Photographer: Bryn Colton/Bloomberg

 

The Government has printed 750,000 information leaflets to prepare people and businesses for Brexit but has fudged the issue of what would happen to the Border if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.

The leaflets are being distributed to more than 5,000 State outlets and public offices such as post offices, Garda stations, public libraries and GP surgeries as the Government ramps up preparations for Brexit.

The public are being told in the two leaflets – one aimed at citizens and the other at businesses – that avoiding a hard border remains a priority for the Government “in all circumstances” but offers no clues as to how it would go about achieving this in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU without an agreement.

The leaflet says that without the proposed EU-UK divorce deal “avoiding a hard border is more challenging and requires detailed discussions between Ireland and the EU and, ultimately, with the UK”.

“In that scenario the outcome will be made public as soon as possible,” the Government says in the section under “Northern Ireland”.

Borderlands

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Irish citizens in the North are assured in the citizens’ leaflet, entitled “Brexit and You,” that they will “continue to have EU citizenship wherever they live” and that they will “continue to enjoy the right to travel and live and work anywhere in the EU and have EU protection against discrimination”.

Common Travel Area

The information leaflets highlight the Common Travel Area, the long-standing arrangements that will remain in place after Brexit that give Irish and British citizens the right to live and work in, and travel freely between, each other’s countries.

The leaflets aimed at businesses encourage them to consider UK-issued certifications and licences that may no longer be valid in the EU after Brexit, particularly for medical devices, chemicals and building products.

There had been plans to test some of the Government’s no-deal contingency planning this week ahead of the UK’s original departure date of March 29th but these have been put on hold after EU leaders last week granted Theresa May’s UK government an additional two weeks to find a solution to the Brexit stalemate.

If the British prime minister can convince MPs to pass her withdrawal agreement, already rejected twice by the UK parliament, then the exit date will be pushed back to May 22nd to pass the necessary legislation.

If she fails to get the agreement passed, the UK must propose an alternative plan by April 12th including the possibility of a longer Brexit extension and running candidates in the European elections on May 23rd.

The Government’s more intensive preparations include a public information campaign that is likely to involve national adverts, highlighting information on Brexit preparedness that is already available publicly and directing people to information about Brexit on the Government’s main Gov.ie website.

No decision has yet been made about the timing of possible adverts on the public awareness campaign that would run under the Government’s long-running “Getting Ireland Brexit Ready” slogan.

The Revenue Commissioners and the Office of Public Works, which are involved in no-deal planning, have said for operational reasons they are not in a position to provide detail on what, if any, simulated exercises may be planned to test the capacity of Dublin and Rosslare ports to handle post-Brexit border checks.

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