Prime Minister Theresa May wants to secure UK-Ireland external border

James Nickerson
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May wants to maintain close economic ties with Ireland (Source: Getty)

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she wants to work to secure the external borders of the Common Travel Area as she looked to relieve concerns around the potential fallout from Brexit on Irish-British relations.

Speaking in a press conference with Taoiseach Enda Kenny, she said that the UK and Ireland have benefited from a Common Travel Area for many years before either country was a member of the EU.

"There is a strong will on both sides to preserve it and so we must now focus on securing a deal that is in the interest of both of us," May said.

"And alongside this, we should continue our efforts to strengthen the external borders of the common travel area, for example through a common approach to the use of passenger data."

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May yesterday sought to play down fears of a new hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in her first visit to the country.

Speaking in Belfast today, May said, while a border between the two will be inevitable, she was seeking a practical response to the new issues generated by the UK's vote to leave the EU.

Over half (56 per cent) of Northern Ireland voted to Remain, while the Republic remains a member, and Sinn Fein have questioned whether the province should be removed from the EU against its will.

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​After the meeting, May also said both her and the Taoiseach wanted to maintain close economic ties in the future, involving the Northern Ireland Executive fully in preparations.

May added: "We are both fully committed to working together in support of the Northern Ireland Executive to build abetter, stronger, safer future for the people of Northern Ireland.

"Indeed, it is vital that that we keep up the momentum on tackling paramilitary groups and building a shared future.

"And today we have reaffirmed our commitment to establishing a new Independent Reporting Commission by the end of this year, which will support these efforts."

The Conservatives have recently taken a 16 point lead over Labour in a new poll, just 13 days after May became Prime Minister.

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