Brexit Britain from Abroad: UK Lays Out Its Plans - Sort of

UK Seeks to Avoid Trade Chaos

On Tuesday, reaction to a new British proposal designed to avert a damaging rupture in trade when the country leaves the European Union underscored the deepening troubles in Britain’s contentious path to negotiating its withdrawal.

After months of internal feuding, Britain’s government said it wanted to remain — temporarily — in something similar to the European customs union immediately after the withdrawal, scheduled for 2019, to avert the types of border checks that could cause chaos at British ports and at the border with Ireland.

British business groups, relieved to see a way to manage the short-term risks of quitting the European Union, welcomed those plans, seeing them as a means, perhaps, to buy two years of stability. But with exit negotiations underway in Brussels, Britain’s longer-term plans for trade ties with the European Union remain as unconvincing as ever.

For months, Britain’s cabinet has been divided between those like Philip Hammond, the chancellor of the Exchequer, who want to prioritize the interests of the economy over control of immigration, and the hard-line supporters for Britain’s exit, or Brexit, who are eager to sever ties with the bloc without regard to the economic ramifications.

Stephen Castle, The New York Times

Still in the Dark

When is a border not a border? The new British paper on Brexit and Northern Ireland throws out some ideas for discussion on how the reintroduction of a Border for goods on the island of Ireland could be avoided, or made as “frictionless” as possible.

But there is still no magic solution to the problem that if Britain leaves the EU customs union, some controls become inevitable both at the Border and between Ireland and the UK. London is saying that these could be well nigh invisible, but the European Commission warned in reply that if Britain leaves the customs union and the single market, as it has said it will, then the concept of a frictionless Border “is not possible.”

Cliff Taylor, The Irish Times

UK Seeks to Keep Visa-Free Travel

The UK plans to maintain a visa-free travel regime with European Union (EU) member states after it leaves the 28-nation bloc, expected in March 2019, the BBC reported, citing Home Office proposals to be presented in the autumn.

Anyone from the EU wanting to live and work in the UK would have to apply for permission, the BBC said.

UK government ministers may face questions about how -- under a post-Brexit, visa-free regime -- EU visitors could be stopped from staying longer and working without a visa, the BBC said.

"I don't think anybody ever intended we were just going to pull the shutters down and become a Little England," the BBC quoted pro-Brexit Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen as saying.

"The same restrictions will apply to UK citizens who wish to visit the Continent. I mean, did you really think we were going to have a visa system just to go for a weekend to Paris?"

Alistair Holloway, Luxemburger Wort

Still Need Answers

Free movement of people and goods north to south and east to west has been taken for granted over the past 25 years but suddenly both appear in jeopardy.

Every day, tens of thousands of people use hundreds of crossing points to move between Northern Ireland and the Republic for reasons ranging from social and business to holidays and healthcare. Any disruption to this situation would be catastrophic not just for those who cross the border regularly but for the region as a whole.

Mrs May gives no guarantees and, as might be expected ahead of negotiations with the EU, proffers no solutions on how the EU frontier across Ireland will operate, yet she does at least restate her desire to maintain free movement between the island's two jurisdictions and between the north and Britain.

Though how that will work in reality is the key challenge to both the British and Irish governments, and the EU.

Analysis, The Irish News

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