“We’ve been crystal clear that issues around our withdrawal and our future partnership are inextricably linked, and the negotiations so far have reinforced that view”, a source in Britain’s Brexit department said.
The Government has recently moved to clarify that freedom of movement between the European Union and the United Kingdom will definitely end in 2019, with the three million European Union citizens already in Britain having to apply for inclusion on a “settled status” register if they wish to remain.
News of the offer of a “Schengen area” between Britain and Ireland came as the Government prepares to publish a formal proposal to the European Union on the future of the Northern Irish border.
The disclosure comes as Britain’s Brexit secretary David Davis prepares to embark on a third round of talks with the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, in the Belgian capital at the end of August.
Mr Barnier has maintained that negotiators must make progress on the rights of European Union and British citizens, the border with Ireland and Britain’s exit payment before discussing a trade deal, while the prime minister Theresa May wants an accord before leaving.
“We will leave the customs union and be free to negotiate the best trade deals around the world as an independent, open, trading nation”, the article said.
The decision to announce the publications indicates Britain’s desire to counter criticism from Brussels about its approach to the talks.
In July, EU officials said progress was hard not because Britain had unacceptable demands, but because it had no position at all on many issues.
A British paper focused on “issues unique to Northern Ireland and Ireland” is expected ahead of the talks, but no further details of the proposal were provided on Sunday. The Brexit department declined to comment on the story.
Free movement for Irish citizens in and out of Britain is expected to continue after Brexit, with the establishment of a Schengen-style area between Ireland and Britain created to resolve the border problem. The first of these will set out proposals for a new customs agreement, it said.
Prime Minister Theresa May formally triggered the Brexit process on March 29 and divorce negotiations officially began on June 19.
Writing in the Brexit-backing Telegraph, the ministers said there would be a “transition period” if the United Kingdom leaves the 28-country block as expected in March, 2019, to avoid an economic “cliff edge” which many businesses and economists fear.
Meanwhile, former Labour Foreign Secretary David Miliband has called for politicians on all sides to unite to fight back against the “worst consequences” of Brexit.