The news that the United Kingdom is advertising twenty-one new jobs for the Belfast branch of its Border Force, an immigration and customs control agency, should come as a surprise to no one. Whatever pledges the UK may have made about abstaining from the imposition of an inevitably militarised frontier around its legacy colony in the north-eastern corner of Ireland should be taken with a large pinch of salt. Prime minister Theresa May has backtracked on several previous deals with Dublin and Brussels, and those arrangements left standing are under continuous attack by senior members of her own Conservative Party government.
If London was determined to avoid the reestablishment of a “hard border” to demarcate the boundary of its anomalous territory on the island, it would hardly go out of its way to specify that any persons applying for the Border Force positions must be British subjects with full UK passports. This rule is in place because the jobs are designated as “reserved positions” in civil service speak, and individuals employed in them “…require special allegiance to the Crown”.
Of course, such a regulation excludes those residents of the Six Counties who have opted to assert their Irish (and European Union) citizenship, including the use of Irish passports, in line with the multi-document Good Friday Agreement of 1998; the peace accords cosponsored and signed by Ireland and the United Kingdom. In other words by using the same stipulations for the Border Force that apply in Britain, the UK authorities are at the very least stretching some of the basic tenets of the Dublin-Belfast-London settlement to breaking point.
It certainly indicates that the country’s previous sensitivities about the functioning of the British state in the north of Ireland, where no such restrictions apply when joining other public agencies including the paramilitary police or PSNI, may be a thing of the past. As we have seen repeatedly throughout the last two years, Brexit is an ideological virus which has infected almost every aspect of the United Kingdom as a functioning nation-state.