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British PM: Brexit won’t affect free travel between the UK and Ireland

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday said that Common Travel Area (CTA), an arrangement between the UK and Ireland to ensure free movement of each other’s citizens in either jurisdiction, will not be affected after UK’s exit from the European Union (EU).

The promise was made by Johnson during his almost-an-hour-long phone talk with his Irish counterpart Leo Varadkar on Monday evening, according to a statement from the Irish government.

The news came at a time after Irish media quoted a British government spokesperson as saying earlier in the day that Britain would immediately end freedom of movement for people from the EU after Brexit on Oct. 31.

“The (British) Prime Minister made clear that the Common Travel Area, which long predates the UK and Ireland joining the EU, would not be affected by the ending of freedom of movement after Brexit,” said the statement.

Under the CTA, which was first agreed in the early 1920s and has later been updated several times, British and Irish citizens can move freely and reside in either jurisdiction and enjoy associated rights and entitlements including access to employment, healthcare, education, social benefits, and the right to vote in certain elections.

“The CTA was recognized in the EU-UK negotiations and there is agreement in the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, which is an integral part of the Withdrawal Agreement, that Ireland and the UK may ‘continue to make arrangements between themselves relating to the movement of persons between their territories’,” says the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in a note posted on its website.

During the phone talk, Johnson and Varadkar also discussed other issues relating to Brexit and Northern Ireland, and they both agreed to meet for further discussions in Dublin in early September, said the statement.

No substantive progress has been made in the talk between the two leaders over the Brexit issue judging the content of the statement.

Johnson insisted in the talk that the backstop must be removed from the Withdrawal Agreement while Varadkar reiterated that the Withdrawal Agreement can not be reopened, according to the statement.

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