London-British Prime Minister Theresa May met her Irish counterpart Enda Kenny in Downing Street, London on Tuesday to discuss bilateral relations following the Brexit.
Among the topics discussed by the two parties were the open border between the United Kingdom and Ireland and the importance of upholding the Irish peace process.
“Strong will exists in both Britain and Ireland to preserve free movement between the countries following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union,” May said after meeting Kenny.
“We benefited from a common travel area between the UK and Republic of Ireland for many years before either country was a member of the EU,” she said.
Notably, the border between the two countries has been open since the Common Travel Act was passed in 1923, allowing free travel between Ireland, the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
May spoke during the joint press conference at 10 Downing Street of keeping the open borders, insisting that “nobody wants to return to the borders of the past,” and that the two countries should also collaborate to strengthen their exterior frontiers.
May said any talks on leaving the European Union must take into account Northern Ireland’s land border with the south.
For his part, Kenny said the UK’s decision to leave the EU, made in last month’s referendum, was “not the outcome that we in Ireland wanted.”
However, he added: “We respect the decision of the UK electorate and we now must work out the consequences of that.”
“We intend to work with the prime minister and all our partners in the EU and in the Northern Ireland Executive to make sure we can achieve the best outcome in the forthcoming negotiations.”
He added work would be done to ensure the “benefits of the peace process are preserved in any new arrangements” that could arise in the UK’s relationship with the EU after it leaves the union.
“We want the upcoming negotiation process to end with a prosperous and outward-looking United Kingdom which retains a close relationship with the EU,” he said.
“Neither I nor the prime minister doubt about the complexities of the negotiations that lie ahead of us all, nor do we underestimate the importance of the issues involved for all of our citizens.”
Kenny added that relation between the two countries “have never been better” and a “spirit of partnership and friendship would guide all of actions and our work together in the time ahead.”