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Ireland and Brexit

Brexit and no end in sight … after the electoral victory of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, who returned to 10 Downing Street without annoying Liberal tenant Nick Clegg, the referendum on a British exit from the European Union (Brexit for short )), was already looming, then it was set for June 23. On June 24, the surprising result was declared: 51.89% of those who bothered to vote… voted to leave the European Union. Which led to Cameron’s swift demise as a political figure, and (after the same theatrical stab) the election of Theresa May as Conservative Party Leader and Prime Minister.

May then declared that she would invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, the legal instrument to remove a country from the EU. With a ‘we’ll have our cake and we’ll eat too’ attitude, demanding special rights for the UK. The last word on all this has yet to be said …

So far so shrugged. Why would this be important to the Republic of Ireland?

Mainly because this, in turn, could change the whole concept of the cross-border travel situation in Ireland.

The specter of Brexit

First we had the “Grexit” as a boogieman from the European Union, the possible abandonment (or expulsion) of Greece from the Eurozone and / or the EU. Then the specter of “Brexit” began to appear, even more dramatic. Not because he really wanted to get rid of the UK, but because Eurosceptics began to gain more and more ground. And not only with the highly publicized appearance of the UKIP, but also within the more mainstream parties.

So dominant, in fact, that Prime Minister Cameron, after surviving the Scottish independence referendum with the UK intact (although the absolutely massive profits of the SNP from the Scottish National Party seem to paint a slightly different picture), vowed to hold a referendum on whether the European Union should be partially dismantled. For Great Britain (or rather the UK, but “Ukexit” doesn’t sound so good) leaving it. This does not match the wishes of all parts of the UK: both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay in the EU.

And even though all the weirdos on the periphery of politics paint a picture of the European Union as a “Fourth Reich” under the iron grip of Angela Merkel, each state is free to let its membership expire. Or, in special circumstances, you may be asked to give up the rush.

Brexit – Without Ireland?

The Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom applied for EU membership together in the 1960s and finally joined in 1973, bringing all of Ireland into the union, and since then there seems to be a mental image of the two as a ‘package’. »Floating about. This, however, is not the case. Both the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom are independent and sovereign states, and there is no clause joining the other in EU regulations.

For example … the euro. The Republic of Ireland was one of the first members of the euro zone, while the United Kingdom retained the British pound as an independent currency. So obviously separate ways are possible.

But are they desirable?

Because, on the facts, Ireland will join Brexit… at least the six counties that make up Northern Ireland, part of the UK. Despite all the strange plans for a separate Northern Ireland referendum as proposed by Sinn Fein.

Ireland after Brexit

Assuming the UK votes for a Brexit, this will not be immediate and it will take time, but there will be consequences in the future. On the one hand, the Republic of Ireland will suddenly have to face the fact that the border with Northern Ireland will also be an ‘external border’ for the EU, requiring much more control, security and paperwork than at present (ie , practically none). And while cross-border traffic has been as laid-back as a sloth in a lounger in recent years, this will have to change.

And… buying goods in the other jurisdiction will be subject to new laws and tariffs as well, no more stocking up on cheap booze “up north” unless you’re prepared for multiple border crossings.

Mentioning multiple border crossings: traffic in the border region, most likely, will turn into a nightmare. With roads crossing and crossing the border, no one wants to run through checkpoints every five minutes. And since money for new roads is tight, winding roads will become major traffic arteries.

As for the economy in general: after a Brexit, international companies will have to decide where to locate more carefully, Northern Ireland will no longer be a heavily subsidized gateway to Europe (as in the EU), and the Republic of Ireland will not have to pay taxes. Friendly gateway to the UK market either.

Brexit and the tourist

Now here is the crisis … will a potential Brexit have a great repercussion for the tourist who is heading to visit Ireland? I mean, aside from the obvious, the reintroduction of controls at the Irish internal border?

In my opinion, the consequences for foreign visitors will be almost nil, if you do not take into account the re-established immigration and customs controls, and the associated planning of driving times from, for example, Belfast to Dublin. Yes, you will have to go through a few bottlenecks. But this will have such a small impact on the big picture that you won’t have to worry about it.

As for all other important things, these will not change. After a possible Brexit, travelers to and in Ireland will still need to be aware that

  • visas for one jurisdiction are not automatically valid in the other,
  • there are two currencies in use, the euro and the pound sterling,
  • Speed restrictions and distances will follow in miles in the UK, in kilometers in the Republic of Ireland.

We have lived with these for centuries, so a Brexit will not be so revolutionary.

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