Expats in Ireland fear chaos over Brexit border

Published:  30 Nov at 6 PM
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Expats on both sides of the open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic are worried about the lack of progress on the issue in Brexit negotiations to date.

According to EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier, the negotiations' ‘moment of truth’ is fast approaching as regards the Irish border situation once the UK leaves the EU. With agreement at least possible over Theresa May’s increased divorce bill offer, the main stumbling blocks are now Ireland and citizens’ rights, with Irish border issues the most difficult to deal with.

At the same time, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney stressed to reporters there could be no trade talks unless May can guarantee a soft border between the island’s two halves. May now has next Monday to present new proposals on the key issues to the EU in order for Barnier to be able to recommend starting trade talks when the negotiations resume.

To say the Irish issue is complicated would be a vast understatement, but a hard border is feared by expats, nationals and Irish politicians on both sides. Residents fear for their businesses, families living either side fear losing immediate access to loved ones and friends, and expats fear for their jobs. According to Coveney, the Republic will not need its veto in order to prevent progress in negotiations, as the EU will do it for them should a workable solution not be found.

EU leaders have made it clear a hard border will be the result should the UK leave the customs union and the single market, as movement of goods between jurisdictions using different regulatory systems will have to be monitored. One solution proposed by the EU was to allow Northern Ireland to keep complying with EU laws post-Brexit, but the UK government has rejected the proposal. As expected after May’s disastrous snap election, the elephant in the room is the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), whose 10 members of parliament are the only reasons why May is still in charge.
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