We want to maintain open frontier between Britain and Ireland, says David Davis

Brexit Secretary David Davis with NI Secretary James Brokenshire.
Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press. PACEMAKER BELFAST 01/09/2016 B
Brexit Secretary David Davis with NI Secretary James Brokenshire. Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker Press. PACEMAKER BELFAST 01/09/2016 B

The UK’s Brexit Secretary said today that both the UK and Ireland want to maintain an open frontier between the two countries.

Speaking in Belfast, where he is holding talks with Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster and Sinn Fein, Mr Davis backed previous comments from Prime Minister Theresa May about there being no return to the hard borders of the past.

Following the Brexit vote earlier this year, there were concerns that immigration controls could be reintroduced at Northern Ireland’s land border with the Republic.

But Mr Davis said: “We have had a common travel area throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland for many, many decades before we were part of the EU and we will maintain that common travel area afterwards.

“We managed to do that without an immigration problem in that time.”

Mr Davis said the UK is seeking tariff-free access to the EU.

He stressed that a good trading relationship is in the interests of the other members as well as Britain, but he warned the country has to take control of its borders and control the number of people coming in.

“What we will seek to do is ideally to have a tariff-free access, but this is a matter of negotiation, and we will be negotiating over an issue which I suspect we will find is in the interest of the other members of the EU as well as us, to get a good trading relationship in the long run.”

Mrs May has pledged to get “the best deal” for British business in negotiations over the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Cabinet ministers meeting at Chequers on Wednesday agreed that any Brexit deal will have to include controls on EU migration, sparking speculation that this will dash any hopes of full access to the single market for British companies.

Mr Davis said: “I agree with the Prime Minister, as you might expect, 100% on the priorities she put yesterday, but the simple fact is this: we have to, as a result of the biggest mandate in the UK’s history, we have to take control of our borders, we have to be able to control the number of people coming into the UK.”

Mr Davis met business leaders in Northern Ireland as well as members of Stormont’s power-sharing ministerial Executive.