Brexit Secretary: 'No change' to special status of Irish citizens in Britain after Brexit

Brexit Secretary: 'No change' to special status of Irish citizens in Britain after Brexit

THE SPECIAL status of Irish citizens in Britain and Northern Ireland will be protected post-Brexit, David Davis has said.

The Brexit Secretary was speaking in the House of Commons yesterday when he told MPs that the Ireland Act 1949 would not be altered.

The act established the Republic of Ireland’s special status as “not a foreign country” under British law.

That special status allows Irish people to vote, emigrate and work as they please in Britain.

Asking Mr Davis to clarify the Government’s position, SNP MP Martin Docherty-Hughes said his constituents were worried that Britain’s decision to leave the EU might pave the way for change to the rights of the Irish in Britain.

“My constituents share an issue, share a concern already brought to the floor of this house by myself about the relationship with our closest neighbour and with our border with the sovereign nation of Ireland,” he said.

“Would you, here on the floor of the house, say here and now that there will be no change to the rights of Irish citizens as dictated by the Ireland Act, amended in 1949?”

Mr Davis responded: "It's a very specific question and forgive me if I did not answer it before because I intend to.

"I will write to you in detail but I think the answer is there will be no change.

"The aim, as I said to you before, is that the Common Travel Area rights - including the rights to vote, the rights to work and so on, both ways - will continue but I will come back to you about the detail."

A number of legal experts had previously said that the special status of Irish citizens in Britain might not be ‘guaranteed’ post-Brexit.

Why every Irish person in Britain should know about controversial Ireland Act 1949 and what it means

Fears of a 'hard Brexit' on the part of the vote’s detractors were quelled last week, when the High Court decided that Parliament must vote on Britain's process of leaving the EU.

Today, the Scottish Government announced it would intervene in the British Government’s appeal to the Supreme Court on the triggering of Article 50.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the Lord Advocate will lodge a formal application.

"The Scottish Government is clear that triggering Article 50 will directly affect devolved interests and rights in  Scotland," she said.

“And triggering Article 50 will inevitably deprive Scottish people and Scottish businesses of rights and freedoms which they currently enjoy.

“It simply cannot be right that those rights can be removed by the UK Government on the say-so of a Prime Minister without parliamentary debate, scrutiny or consent.

“So legislation should be required at Westminster and the consent of the Scottish Parliament should be sought before Article 50 is triggered."

She added: “Let me be clear - I recognise and respect the right of England and Wales to leave the European Union. This is not an attempt to veto that process.

“But the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland and the national Parliament of Scotland cannot be brushed aside as if they do not matter."