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Border controls could return if Britain leaves EU, Enda Kenny warns

Britain will go to the polls to vote on a Brexit on 23 June.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured in London yesterday
Taoiseach Enda Kenny pictured in London yesterday
Image: John Stillwell/PA Wire

BORDER CONTROLS BETWEEN the UK and Ireland could return if Brexit goes ahead, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said.

His comments come after speculation from official sources about the shape a new border would take if Britain votes to leave the European Union on 23 June.

Speaking at a GAA match in London yesterday, Kenny was asked what shape a border would take if the UK public vote to leave, to which he replied:

There would be a two-year negotiation period. If the electorate in Britain were to decide to leave, obviously the implications as of yet unknown to the fullest extent.  But there would clearly be very significant, complex and difficult negotiations.

In his comments to the Guardian newspaper, Kenny also said that “a prosperous Britain will lead to a prosperous Ireland” and that he was in full support of the country remaining in the EU.

Kenny was appearing alongside representatives from Irish4Europe, a campaign group urging the Irish in the UK to register and vote to stay in the EU.

A new report from the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee echoes the words of former US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld in noting that there are a number of “known unknowns” in the debate – referring to the impossibility of predicting the full extent of the fallout should the UK public vote to leave.

The report notes that the border could be “hardened” should a vote to leave go ahead.

Neither Ireland nor the UK are signed up to the Schengen Agreement (the EU policy that allows for free movement across most of mainland Europe), and free movement between the two countries hinges on a common travel area that has been in place since the 1920s.

In the Northern Ireland Committee’s report, it says that “in spite of there being no desire on either side of the border to change the current arrangements”, in the event of a Brexit the common travel area would be “put into question”.

It notes that there are concerns around Ireland acting as a possible backdoor for immigration and that there would be issue connected to trade.

In a UK government document entitled ‘The Process for withdrawing from the European Union, it is stated that it would be “necessary” for customs checks to be imposed in the case of a Brexit.

Read: Custom checks at the border “necessary” outside EU, says UK government docs

Also: The UK’s Vote Leave campaign isn’t happy with Ryanair

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