Philip Hammond: We are determined to avoid a physical Border in Ireland

We also want to agree an interim period as we build a new partnership with the EU

Philip Hammond: our shared history, geography and economic interests mean that it is in the interests of both the UK and Ireland to strengthen the ties that bind us together. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

Philip Hammond: our shared history, geography and economic interests mean that it is in the interests of both the UK and Ireland to strengthen the ties that bind us together. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

 

As we prepare to leave the European Union we in the United Kingdom want to build a new deep and special partnership between the EU and the UK, as well as deepening our bilateral ties with our European neighbours and trading partners. And this is especially the case with Ireland, where our shared history, geography and economic interests mean that it is in both countries’ interests to strengthen the ties that bind us together.

That’s why I am in Dublin today to meet with the Taoiseach and Irish Ministers, as well as businesses, to discuss these plans.

As chancellor of the exchequer in the UK, the economics of Brexit is prominent on my radar screen, but I know that the people of Ireland are looking for clarity on a whole range of issues, from trade to the movement of people to the Border with Northern Ireland. We are clear in our determination to avoid any physical border infrastructure on either side of the Border between Ireland and Northern Ireland. And we want to secure an agreement with the EU that fully recognises the cultural, social and economic context of the Border.

Our economies are already closely entwined. The Dublin-to-London air route is the second-busiest international route in the world

Our economies are already closely entwined. Our businesses operate across the land and sea borders, and so do our people. Agricultural products feeding the Irish agrifoods sector move backwards and forwards across the land Border in enormous quantities. Guinness is brewed in Dublin, bottled in Belfast and drunk internationally. And the Dublin-to-London air route is the second-busiest international route in the world, a fact that encapsulates the depth of the relationship between our two nations.

The United Kingdom exported goods and services worth £26.1 billion, or €28.4 billion, to Ireland in 2015, while £17.7 billion, or €19.2 billion, worth of Irish goods and services went the other way. This makes trade between the UK and Ireland worth more than £800 million, or €870 million, every week. The current invisible and open Border between Northern Ireland and Ireland is not only a superhighway for trade but also, as the Irish Government has said, “the most tangible symbol of the peace process”.

We also want to agree a time-limited interim period to provide certainty and avoid a cliff edge for business and individuals during the transition from the current structures of membership to a new special partnership with the EU.

After Brexit, goods must be able to move smoothly across the Border between the UK and Ireland, but so too must people

We have recently released a number of position papers to inform our negotiating position with the EU, on topics such as future customs arrangements and the land Border. Further detail will come, but these papers make a series of UK proposals in the key areas of the negotiation.

After Brexit, goods must be able to move smoothly across the Border between the UK and Ireland, but so too must people. So we’re determined to maintain the Common Travel Area and the reciprocal rights that our respective citizens have enjoyed since 1922 – to live, work and travel within each other’s countries – rights that long predate our joint membership of the European Community.

We must preserve the unique relationship established over the last couple of decades between the UK and Ireland, protecting the peace process and the Belfast Agreement

We have made clear that the right of people of Northern Ireland to hold British or Irish citizenship, or both, is unaffected by the UK’s exit from the EU. We must also preserve the unique relationship that has been established over the last couple of decades between the UK and Ireland, protecting the peace process and the Belfast Agreement that underpins it.

As we move closer to Brexit I want to strengthen the unique bonds between our two nations. We will do this, as Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said on his recent visit to the United Kingdom, through “mutual comprehension and understanding”.

Philip Hammond is UK chancellor of the exchequer

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