Brexit Byproducts

By David North on June 30, 2016

Alongside the expected major geo-political and economic consequences of Brexit, which would have caused me to, painfully, cast a "remain" vote were I a British citizen, there are a number of interesting migration by-products.

The obvious one is that the UK government will now be able to limit migration from the European Union, just like almost all the other nations of the world. My colleagues and I at CIS have long warned about the negative consequences of making immigration policy by treaty and now the British public has decided to get out of the European treaties because, among other things, it denies the UK the right to control migration from other EU nations.

But beyond that there are other, lesser migration by-products of Brexit, mostly revolving around the odd relations between Ireland (until nearly 100 years ago a segment of the United Kingdom) and the UK. There are several of them:

  1. What had been an open border between the Irish Republic and the UK's Northern Ireland may now become a regular international border, with EU member Ireland on one side and Ulster, part of the non-EU UK, on the other side.

  2. People born in Ulster before 2005 can secure both UK and Irish passports, and there will be a post-Brexit a rush for the latter, as this will make travel in Europe easier (unless the EU changes its own rules.)

  3. Anyone, anywhere in the world with an Irish parent or grandparent can also get an Irish passport, which means that many residents of the UK will seek these documents.

  4. Brexit may ultimately cause Scotland (which was very pro-remain) to leave the leaver (UK) and seek EU membership for itself, which would have its own set of migration consequences, such as Eastern Europeans going to Scotland, not England, and the possibility of a real border between Scotland and England.

  5. Residents of Gibraltar (who stoutly voted to remain) will suddenly face a real border with Spain (an EU member) while residents of the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, who did not get a vote on the issue, will also face new difficulties when they travel to Europe since they will continue (assuming no Irish connection) to use UK passports.

Media coverage of Brexit has very much emphasized the changes that will result from the recent vote; what we note here is that the UK will return to an earlier condition in which it, like all nations outside of Europe, will control its own immigration policies and its own borders.

In this sense Brexit is merely a restoration of the status quo ante.