New Brexit bombshell. Irish citizen rights to live and work in Great Britain may change within a month, even for northerners. The answer so far- take out a British passport if you can, quick

My thanks to commenter Jag for drawing attention to a quite a different Brexit  bombshell from No 10 in the Daily Telegraph.

The Prime Minister is expected to say that EU citizens who travel to Britain after she triggers Article 50 will no longer have the automatic right to stay in the UK permanently.

They will instead be subject to migration curbs after Britain leaves the European Union, which could include a new visa regime and restricted access to benefits.

If the report is accurate, it appears to run  flatly counter to  the  assurances given by both sides over continuing the Common Travel Area and badly needs clarification. Even more than the principle of the thing which has been foreseen by lawyers, is the suddenness and speed with which  the measure has been sprung, linked to triggering Art 50 by the end of March. It feels oppressive as it seems to contradict all those assurances, like those about an open border. It would surely be open to legal challenge. However I assume the CTA remains in force at least until  Brexit terms on free entry are finalised.

Bizarrely, any change to the rules on free entry to Great Britain (note, not the United Kingdom ) may affect Northern Ireland people holding Irish passports. For how on entry to Great Britain can an Irish citizen from the north be distinguished from one from the south without tracing back birth place and residence? In Irish terms and probably  British terms under the GFA, there is no legal distinction. So this restriction would seem to apply to Northerners who are Irish passport holders. They  automatically enjoy  British citizen rights but may need to acquire a British passport to assert them in Great Britain.

This development would reverse the whole trend of a creative form of unity, first dating back to ease the impact of the truamas of partition almost a century ago and then in our own time so carefully reconstructed and imaginatively accommodated within the constitutional arrangements,  not only of Ireland but the whole British Isles ; and it would cast a shadow over British-Irish reconciliation. It will also do nothing, to put it mildly, to advance Theresa May’s other aim of protecting the Union, discussed below.

One way round it may be for Irish citizens for acquire British passports.  So as many  Irish people as possible,  from the north and the south,  may end up with two passports- just as thousands of  eligible British citizens are scrambling to acquire Irish passports to facilitate automatic, visa-free entry to the EU.

My legal guidance confirms that indeed,  Irish citizenship rights in GB will be subject to Brexit negotiation

What will be the rights of Irish citizens who live and work in Northern Ireland and regard themselves as native to NI?  Will they be the same or different, internally and externally, as   the rights of British citizens who live and work in Northern Ireland and who also regard themselves as native to NI?


Brexit will have no effect on those with dual citizenship in Northern Ireland or those born in Northern Ireland who have not previously claimed UK passports as they are automatically entitled to them. Individuals who were born in the Republic but who live in Northern Ireland will be in the same situation as those born in the Republic and living in any other part of the UK.

Under the Common Travel Area, currently those born in the Republic are treated entirely the same as UK passport holders under the Ireland Act 1949 and under different welfare provisions. However, this status may be subject to negotiation under Brexit with both Brussels and Dublin.

While both Governments have said they wish the status to remain the same, as Ireland is staying in the EU Brussels will also have a say in regard to those with UK passports wishing to live and work in the Republic. There is no specific ‘Northern Ireland’ status either for those born in the Republic or Britain living in Northern Ireland.

After Brexit both states wish to preserve the common travel area. Will any  amended  arrangements for common travel be different for people of either citizenship who are native to Northern Ireland? If so how? Would British and Irish citizens native to NI be treated differently entering and exiting GB and the Republic?

This will really be the subject of negotiation. While both governments have stated that they wish to keep the CTA and theoretically this may be possible whether or not the UK stays in the single market or joins the EEA will impact on the CTA. While travel for leisure may be relatively straightforward, goods or services crossing the border may be effected. The status of those from Northern Ireland crossing the border into the Republic or travelling to Britain may largely depend on the passport they hold. The most straightforward thing would be for an individual to hold both passports if they are entitled to them. If you hold an Irish passport you will remain an EU citizen while if you have a UK passport you will be entitled to travel freely within the UK. It is impossible at this point to be certain of the outcome as it will be part of the negotiations.



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  • Reader

    lizmcneill: That paragraph about EU freedom of movement will go for a start,…
    That would be the paragraph including “These rules do not expand the rights of UK citizens themselves (since their rights are more extensive than those of other EU citizens)”? So I don’t think it will be missed…
    lizmcneill: and what if the EU says after Brexit Ireland can’t grant greater rights to UK citizen than to EU ones?
    I assume that Ireland would veto such a change to the EU rules. Although if UK citizens were pegged back to merely EU rights in Ireland that might not be such a big deal anyway.

  • Steven Denny

    Liz, since when did Belfast feel as British as Finchley? Since never… that’s when… I am slowly coming to the conclusion that NI is a busted flush, and is treated as such by the rest of GB… but we are not alone… Liverpool, Stoke, Birmingham Glasgow etc… There is a London centric political agenda that simply does not see passed the M25, and the SNP know this and are trying to do something about and at least they have common purpose.

  • Fear Éireannach

    What change in EU rules? The rules are not changing, only the status of the British in relation to them, so what can you veto?

  • Fear Éireannach

    The only possible escape is that this Brexit crap is not good for the City of London nor London, so the whole project is quite against the run of Conservative policies in general in recent times. A number of influential people must be keenly aware of this.

  • lizmcneill

    They can’t directly stop the British from making whatever distinctions between EU citizens that they like, as Britain will be outside the EU. I’d be more worried about what rights Ireland can give British citizens, and Britain not liking the result and deciding to limit Irish citizens’ rights in the other direction.

    And the pragmatic solution to NI as immigration backdoor is to have passport checks at the chokepoints of Irish Sea crossings, but the Unionists will have kittens.

  • lizmcneill

    In the case of Brexit though, London voted Remain, as did NI – parts of the rest of England, not so much.

  • lizmcneill

    Cui bono? That’s been rather the puzzler with regards Brexit. There’s Moscow, I suppose, but what are May and co getting out of it?

  • Sharpie

    This is practically inevitable, as well I’d suggest a secondary more robust customs check system as well. The border between free movement Ireland and the visa required UK will be extremely porous and the Irish will have little incentive to set up a queue on its side for people travelling North through lanes and fields.

  • lizmcneill

    Yes, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that from having functionally no borders, NI winds up with some kind of checks travelling to both the south and GB. Thanks a lot, DUP!

  • Obelisk

    I think you’ve missed the point of Toryvision. Just because at first glance, and second, and fifteenth, it appears to be a disaster for the City of London only means you aren’t looking deeply enough for the greater truth.

    You just aren’t factoring in the deeply complicated economic impact of just how much Ian Duncan Smith loathes the European Union.

    Once you do, you’ll see all those frowns turn upside down as the UK wide positives, previously obscured, become apparent to everyone.

  • Oriel27

    Were will these passports be checked Brian ???? Coming home from work tonight I cross a little border road 3 meters wide in a very rural area of east fermanagh. Do u honestly think someone will be stopping me on my way home for a passport ? Not a house in miles. Do u think I should stop ? It would be a brave man to stand out in that lonely area at night. About 3 cars would pass him all night. That very road 30 years ago witnessed 2 soldiers getting shot. Why would that not happen again ?????

    People need to start paying attention to the past and ensure the mayhem of a border must not return. These are the real daily issues. A hard border cannot work in Ireland.
    People in Belfast or further away may not but they really should. Peace is at stake here.

  • anon

    Yeah, sure. Why not just go the whole hog and rejoin the UK?

  • johnny lately

    The British establishment is the Crown and the Crown is the City, nothing happens in Westminster that goes against the interests of the Crown and the Crown has survived for hundreds of years through strategic long term planning. Expect a war in Europe in the future in which the City as usual will finance both sides.

  • johnny lately

    “That very road 30 years ago witnessed 2 soldiers getting shot. Why would that not happen again ?????”

    Thats exactly what unionist like the DUP want Oriel, British soldiers back on the streets of Northern Ireland yearning and hoping against hope for a return to the past. Thats why they are so afraid of a border poll it would be the fly in their ointment.

  • lizmcneill

    It’s probably unenforceable.

  • Surveyor

    I read a comment on another site from a British ex-pat who was residing in Spain, who flew back to the UK and voted leave during the referendum. You can’t legislate against that sort of stupidity and you get to thinking they deserve everything that’s coming to them.

  • FrRomeoSensini

    Well Brian, modern British nationalism in N. Ireland seems to place particular importance on commemorating a battle fought in 1690 by marching through predominantly catholic areas on its anniversary, so perhaps you shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss my reference to an 18th century piece of music that is widely associated with British nationalism.

  • Jollyraj

    “Do u think I should stop ? It would be a brave man to stand out in that lonely area at night. About 3 cars would pass him all night. That very road 30 years ago witnessed 2 soldiers getting shot. Why would that not happen again ?????”

    This reads almost like you’re hoping for some drama/violence whatever.

    Question for you: When you’re driving around on the course of whatever your daily business is, if the police hail you to stop for a random licence check or checking for drunk drivers or whatnot – do you stop?

  • FrRomeoSensini

    “The nationalists-republicans in this thread are projecting their own very simple narrative on a world they decline to see on its own terms.”

    That’s a fairly disgraceful position for a journalist to take. You couldn’t possibly be more dismissive of views that oppose your own. You have reached Arlene Foster levels of contempt with that one Brian.

  • Fear Éireannach

    it isn’t rocket science, invading other countries for your own advantage is morally inferior to just staying at home. Or do you dispute this?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    If it is true and you’re a nationalist then this is good news from a UI point of view, so, relax.

    If you’re a hard line unionist who believes that a hard border is somehow a good thing, then you’ve got your wish so relax.

    If you’re a small u unionist and don’t fear a UI and believe the hardline unionists when they say they’ll go to Britain in the event of a UI then you’ll soon have the opportunity of purchasing a cheap property in the north coast or north Down, so, relax (and start saving fir a deposit);

  • lizmcneill

    With the way Theresa and co have been acting since the referendum, that doesn’t exactly fill the heart with reassurance.

  • martivickers

    The CTA predates the EU – but back then neither Ireland nor UK had to obey EU law, so creating CTA was just a matter for dublin and london to mesh their external passport rules, hence easy. Post Brexit, for the first time, it will be EU v non-EU, and Ireland will have to make its border policies synonymous with EU generally – and EU requires customs and excise for starters. Ireland can veto a deal that doesn’t suit, as can UK, but it can’t force one that does suit- everyone else has a veto too – and since the default is no deal and automatic customs borders, Ireland’s veto’s not worth much.

  • Hugh Davison

    Perhaps an unconscious residue of being stitched up regularly over centuries.

  • Hugh Davison

    What is the history of ‘modern English nationalism’ please? I’m slightly confused here, having only experienced ‘British’ nationalism while growing up

  • Starviking

    Irish Citizens have rights separate from EU Citizens. The Ireland Act 1949 enshrines those rights, though they have been modified by the Nationality Act 1981.

    Here is an excerpt from a UK Government document on Right of Abode:

    Irish citizens

    Irish citizens are not subject to restrictions when they travel to the United Kingdom. In order for their child to gain British nationality, they would have to be considered as resident here in order to fulfil the requirements of the Act.

    Irish citizens may be automatically accepted as settled for the purpose of section (1)(1)(b) unless there is clear evidence to the contrary. For example, if staff were advised that the parent was on a short visit to the UK, or that long periods of residence had been spent outside the UK, it would be appropriate to ask the applicant for further clarification.

  • Jack fotheringham

    No mention of latest red c poll yet lol. SF +5 Sshhhhhhhhhh……

  • Surveyor

    As you say Jolly random. If you were stopped every single day you left the house you’d soon get peed off, that’s what going to happen at border checkpoints.

  • Jollyraj

    “You couldn’t possibly be more dismissive of views that oppose your own.”

    Sure he could – he could be a hardline Irish Republican. Irish Republicanism can only exist by dismissing/ignoring views that oppose their own.

  • Brian Walker

    But nothing has actually changed yet.

  • Brian Walker

    The guidance suggests no restrictions on free movement on visits iwithin Ireland. .Residence and work for British passport holders in the south to be negotiated.As this is a sovereign matters and both pledge to maintain the CTA, the outlook is good but not certain.

  • Brian Walker

    Sorry but some commenters seem to relish the worst case scenario and regard the UK government’s position only as another attempt to victimise the Irish. This stuff has to be worked through with an open mind and good faith. Rare attributes!

  • Obelisk

    I must disagree. Sure nothing has changed officially, not one deal has been done, article 50 hasn’t even been triggered.

    But everything has changed since the vote. Absolutely everything.

  • Reader

    Fear Éireannach: What change in EU rules?
    Liz postulated a change in the EU rules: “and what if the EU says after Brexit Ireland can’t grant greater rights to UK citizen than to EU ones?”. I explained why I thought that wouldn’t happen.

  • Mike the First

    “You just couldn’t make it up”

    Apparently you can, since you just have.

  • burnboilerburn

    We only get a thread on Southern Polls if it shows Fianna Fail doing well and they dropped in this recent Red C one.

  • lizmcneill

    Do we have a precedent of an EU country granting greater rights to citizens of a non-EU country than to citizens of other EU countries?

  • lizmcneill

    The same good faith that the UK government showed with the promises made to Scotland around IndyRef? About staying in the UK meaning staying in the EU?

    Is the supply of good faith supposed to be limitless, or when does the government disqualify itself?

  • Fear Éireannach

    The British government are not proceeding with good faith. An open mind is all very fine, but if you find that the other party is cheating then you have to proceed on that basis.

  • Reader

    johnny. It looks like the council applied d’Hondt. Do you have a different allocation system in mind?

  • Reader

    Fear Éireannach: invading other countries for your own advantage is morally inferior to just staying at home. Or do you dispute this?
    Plenty of Irish people went off empire building alongside English, Welsh and Scots. So how are you making a distinction?

  • Reader

    lizmcneill: Do we have a precedent of an EU country granting greater rights to citizens of a non-EU country than to citizens of other EU countries?
    I can see what you are driving at, but I don’t think it’s relevant. If the EU has failed to notice the possibility in the past, it needs a change in the law to prevent such a thing in the future. Ireland will veto such a change.
    Of course, you may have found such a law already. In which case, please do tell.

  • johnny lately

    So they claim Reader but unfortunately cross community EU grants require cross community representation and thats not happening so no grants.

  • mac tire

    “Anyperson who holds the nationality of an EU country is automatically also an EU citizen. EU citizenship is additional to and does not replace
    national citizenship.

    Citizenship of the Union is conferred directly on every EU citizen by the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU.”

    You weren’t looking but that does not surprise me. As a person who voted Remain, in an area that voted Remain, in a region that voted Remain and as an Irish citizen on the island of Ireland I expect to be able to keep all rights that citizenship entails.

  • lizmcneill

    “The United Kingdom is a leading member of the UN and the only country in the world that is also a member of NATO, *the EU*, the Commonwealth, the G7, the G8 and the G20. “

  • John Collins

    I always think Crossmaglen, as Margaret Thatcer said, is more British than Finchley, especially on a Saint Patricks Day when the local football club are playing in Croke Park.

  • lizmcneill

    You really think there’s no difference in someone from Donegal moving to (/)Derry or Belfast, than moving to Australia?

  • AK

    Irish citizens have a special status in the UK, which predates and is separate to the rights they have as EU citizens. In short, Ireland is not considered to be a “foreign country” for the purpose of UK laws, and Irish citizens are not considered to be “aliens”.
    Irish citizens are treated as if they are ‘settled’ (i.e. have permanent immigration permission to remain in the UK) from the date they take up “ordinary residence” in the UK. The special status of Irish nationals is in the Ireland Act (1949).

  • Starviking

    I made a similar comment a few days ago AK, lost amongt the outrage. Here’s hoping you have better luck!

  • Antoin O Lachtnain

    As I understand it the 1971 Immigration Act changed the status of Irish citizens in the UK. Irish citizens are not foreigners but they are not patrial and so do not have an automatic right to reside in the United Kingdom.

  • Eymard M Martin
  • Madamarcati

    Actually, in the local Belly Telly and I realise full well such a forum does not have the Freud communications Westminster funded Poll legitimacy, two polls on a reunited Ireland pre and post our second Stormont elections, returned a vote of over 72% in favour of reunification.