Windsor-Detroit border technology inspires Brexit proponents in the U.K.

Brexit advocates in the United Kingdom are pointing to the Windsor-Detroit border as an example of how the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland might work after the U.K. leaves the European Union.

The U.S. side of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel is shown in this Oct. 17, 2018 file photo. Dan Janisse / Windsor Star

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Windsor-Detroit residents may take their border crossings for granted, but on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, some politicians in the United Kingdom have been marvelling at them and using them for debate fuel.

With the U.K. set to leave the European Union on March 29, legislators have been scrambling to address the potential confusion caused by Brexit — such as new border difficulties between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Ireland remains an EU member, but Northern Island is part of the U.K.

The EU and its supporters are insisting that this border be kept open — a provision known as the backstop.

Meanwhile, Brexit advocates in the U.K. are demanding an alternative.

One possible solution: adopt the technology currently in place at the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

Vehicles queue up on the Canadian side of the Ambassador Bridge in this file photo from Dec. 3, 2019. Dan Janisse / The Windsor Star

According to Toronto’s Globe and Mail, former Brexit secretary David Davis visited Windsor in 2017 and had high praise for what he saw at our crossings.

“I looked at the crossing times: 54 seconds. I looked at the mechanisms: easy, cheap, 15 years old,” Davis reportedly told a British parliamentary committee.

“Even in the most difficult environment, it worked well.”

The Nexus program, facial recognition, licence plate scanning, and the ongoing development of Fast and Secure Trade (FAST) lanes are all admirable features to Brexit proponents.

Even Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who reportedly visited Windsor last year to see for himself, agreed that the Windsor-Detroit border is “high tech and highly efficient.”

“But make no mistake — It’s a hard border. That is definitely not a solution that we can possibly entertain,” Varadkar said, as reported by the Globe and Mail.

The EU rejects the idea that there are any technological solutions currently available that would allow for a friction-free border as it exists now between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

While Windsor-Detroit is a true border, separated by bodies of water, as well as passport controls and customs, the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland only exists on maps, and stretches 500 kilometres.

British Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to report to her parliament on the issue next week.

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dchen@postmedia.com

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