I am in Dublin this week with a very clear message: that the UK government is committed to preserving and enhancing the unique relationship between our countries and our peoples.
Geography, history and the close family ties and bonds of affection that unite the UK and Ireland mean that there will always be a special and unique relationship between us.
Indeed, there are about 700,000 Irish nationals living in the UK and an estimated 250,000 UK nationals living in Ireland. Irish citizens have a unique status in UK law unlike other EU nationals.
The powerful imagery of the Queen’s state visit to Ireland in 2011, and President Michael D Higgins’s state visit to Britain in 2014, showed just how far that relationship has come in recent years. I intend to preserve the historic progress that has been made.
But I know that, since the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, there are concerns – particularly about the nature of our future relationship, the ability to travel between the UK and Ireland, and also the trade we do with one another. I want to reassure readers of The Irish Times on all 3 issues.
First of all, the vote to leave the EU was no rejection of the values we share with our European friends, least of all Ireland.
Success for all
We want the EU itself to be a success and we want its remaining member states, including Ireland, to prosper.
We do not want to turn the clock back to the days when Europe was less peaceful, less secure and less able to trade freely.
Instead, the UK’s vote to leave the EU was a vote to restore, as we see it, our parliamentary democracy, national self-determination and to become even more global and internationalist in action and in spirit.