British Prime Minister Theresa May has said retaining the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the United Kingdom is an “absolute priority” for her in the wake of Brexit,.
In her keynote address which signalled her intention to pursue a hard exit from the Customs Union, Mrs May spoke of the “special relationship” that exists between the Irish and British people.
Her comments are a significant boost to Ireland which is more exposed than any other from the fall-out from Brexit, but committing to the continuation of the Common Travel Area will be greatly welcomed by the Irish Government.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Mrs May had spoken last night and it is clear the views of the Dublin Government have been taken on board by the Tory leader.
Mrs May said her government will find a practical solution that allows the common travel area between Ireland and Northern Ireland to be maintained.
Mrs May has said her government will consider papers from the Scottish and Welsh government as it plans its Brexit strategy.
She added the British government will ensure, as powers are repatriated, the right powers go to Westminster, and the right ones to the devolved assemblies.
The Prime Minister said no decisions taken by the devolved administrations will be removed from them.
Sterling received another instant boost from May’s announcement that the Brexit deal will be put to parliament for a vote.
Mrs May said the UK "cannot possibly" remain within the European single market, as staying in it would mean "not leaving the EU at all".
But the prime minister promised to push for the "greatest possible" access to the single market following Brexit.
In a long-awaited speech, she also announced Parliament would get a vote on the final deal agreed between the UK and the European Union.
And Mrs May promised an end to "vast contributions" to the European Union.
The prime minister used the speech to announce the 12 objectives the UK has set for its negotiations with the EU, including:
Mrs May said she does not want partial membership of the EU.
“We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU,” she said.
“Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave. The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. My job is to get the right deal for Britain as we do,” she added.
Mrs May said she wants Brexit to lead to a fairer Britain.
There has been record immigration into Britain, she said.
That has put a downward pressure on wages.
She said, as British Home Secretary, she learnt you cannot control immigration while allowing free travel from the EU.
Brexit must mean control of number of people coming to the UK from Europe.
During her 45-minute speech, Mrs May proposed a flexible Brexit transitional deal, with different aspects lasting different amounts of time.
She said these proposals will be the basis for a new relationship with the EU.