'Unprecedented numbers' of Brits rush to get Irish passports before Brexit

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Britons are rushing to get Irish passports in unprecedented numbers before Brexit, Ireland’s ambassador to the UK said today.

Dan Mulhall said the Dublin government was on course to issue twice the usual 50,000 passports to people in the UK this year and a record 500,000 around Europe.

“That’s an extraordinary number of passports, well up on our previous numbers, which means that people around the world – many of them may be British people living in Europe, living elsewhere, with Irish connections – are looking for Irish passports in order to safeguard their position for the future,” he told Today.

His comments came as Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar stepped up pressure on Britain to clarify its Brexit plans.

In his first speech in Northern Ireland, the Taoiseach demanded quicker progress on agreeing how the border between Northern Ireland and the republic should look after Brexit. 

A video from June 2016 reports how Irish passport applications surged after Brexit result

Warning that “the clock is ticking” he was expected to say: “Every single aspect of life in Northern Ireland could be affected by the outcome – jobs and the economy, the border, citizens’ rights, cross-border workers, travel, trade, agriculture, energy, fisheries, aviation, EU funding, tourism, public services, the list goes on.”

A Leave-supporting Cabinet minister insisted the Government’s Brexit position was “very clear”.

Priti Patel was responding to a protest by business leaders who complained about Cabinet feuding over potential transitional arrangements. 

The International Development Secretary said ministers had a “clear position” that free movement will end in 2019.

“That means we’ll be taking back control of our borders and our immigration policy, which means an end to free movement.

“And our position is very clear on that, along with the fact that we are all working together as a Government to secure the best deal for Britain so that we can prosper as a nation.”

The Institute of Directors (IoD) urged the Government to avoid a “cliff-edge” Brexit.

Speaking ahead of Mr Varadkar’s speech, Mr Mulhall said a hard border between northern and southern Ireland was “not feasible” .

Mr Mulhall also told Today that Ireland ideally wanted the UK to remain in the EU customs union.

He said: “I think people are now beginning to realise the complexities of leaving the European Union, and there’s a debate developing here.

“We’re making our position clear, which would be ideally we would wish Britain to remain in the European Union – that’s not going to happen.

“We would like Britain to remain in the single market, that may not happen.

“But we think putting forward our view that remaining in the customs union would resolve many of these issues on the border of the isle of Ireland, that seems to us to be a practical solution.”

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