In a report published today in the Irish Times newspaper it has been revealed that Britain has made a commitment to guarantee to preserve free movement of all European Union citizens between Ireland and Britain.
Sources told the Irish Times that this is a big step forward in the Irish border question but with further talks not expected until neat year, the stalemate and uncertainty continues for the people of the island of Ireland.
Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, was quoted yesterday stating that the talks were a “long way” away from real progress. It is hoped, however, that if one of the major stumbling blocks is achieved then the final two big issues of a financial settlement of citizens rights will fall into place.
If it is true that Britain is prepared to make this commitment on the Irish border, then it is indeed a significant step and a welcome one, particularly for the people of Ireland.
It seems that the real problem is the money – not an unusual situation in a divorce settlement, regardless of whether it is between two people, or a country and a union of 27 states.
For the people of Europe the financial settlement is last on the list. The majority of citizens on both sides want to be free to move between Britain and Europe and also have the rights guaranteed in both regions.
If it is the case that this commitment is being agreed, then it could also be a nail in the coffin of the remain campaign. Freedom of movement and a frictionless border between Ireland and Britain along with Westminster agreeing to stay in the customs union would severely damage any remain calls.
Of course, while this author still hopes that Britain will stay, the end result of which would see freedom of movement on the island of Ireland, citizens rights guaranteed and a possible financial reduced settlement as the final outcome would be a favourable outcome.
Nobody wants the mess of locked gates on a border – not even the Brexiteers.
I disagree that it hurts Remain. It is not so much that Remainers want other EU citizens to be able to enter the UK at will, although they want that, too. They want to be able to enter and live in any other EU nation, as they can now. Nor does it address the overwhelming problems of fewer jobs when the pound drops more, as it will as companies move to the EU to avoid the desperation of a Brexit and its effect on them. Not does it address the customs issues between NI and the Republic. The small hint that it might be detrimental to the Remain campaign is more than overshadowed by these factors. In addition, when Leavers are told–and they will be–that their major grievance, filthy foreigners setting up house and taking jobs and bennies in the UK, will not be addressed, they are going to lose their minds and go on a rampage. But it will be a rampage that even a Tory government is going to have to quash. Frankly, I think this shows beyond doubt how useless Brexit actually is. And maybe adds some momentum to stop it.