So, a problem Ireland faces in the fallout of Brexit is the issue of the Common Travel Area.
This, despite much discussion, is rather a diffuse concept. A good discussion is here. Note that it is perfectly possible to maintain the Common Travel Area, if both sides agree, but to NOT maintain the automatic right of Irish citizens to work in the UK. A common travel area without a common labour market is perfectly possible. Think Canada and the USA. That is the nub of where we will I think find ourselves in problems. The driving element in Brexit was, imho , a xenophobic reaction to the influx of non traditional migrants. The UK population had acquiesced in the immigration of commonwealth immigrants. Poles? Another story. In passing, think through the enormously patronising root of such acquiescence…
So a logical outcome of “taking back control” has to be some form of restriction on the automatic right of EU citizens to work in the UK. Ireland is in the EU so we will have to find a way to be nimble here.
Below we see the numbers of non British in the UK in 2014 by nationality. We are small. There are nearly x7 as many EU residents in the UK who are not irish than are irish. There are x2 as many Polish, half as many Lithuanians etc. I would be fascinated to hear a compelling argument that said “Ireland is different. We must and shall be allowed to be part of a common labour market with the UK, with free movement of people and free movement of labour, but you, Poles and Latvians, you cant be. Because…”
What is the because? Because we have it? So do they. Because we are worth it? This isnt a L’Oréal ad. Because we have always had it? That was then, this is now. The Irish government will have a hell of a time persuading those who are far more affected than we that we are more special, a superior form of EU citizen, than they.
Common travel is easy – so long as we remain outside schengen it in essence involves cooperation of the relevant immigration authorities. Indeed, common labour with NI is easy as they are all entitled to Irish citizenship, so working here is not a problem. Working in Belfast or Newry, the other way, more of a problem.