The British government is looking for a new dispute with the EU. Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss announced a new Northern Ireland law in the House of Commons on Tuesday. It is intended to change the exit agreement of the Brexit island, which is binding under international law, insofar as it affects the special regulation for the Irish part of the Kingdom.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is thus fulfilling the wishes of unionists in Northern Ireland who are loyal to London. On the other hand, the initiative met with strong rejection in Brussels, Washington, Dublin, most Northern Irish groups and some conservative party friends.
In the regional elections at the beginning of the month, Sinn Féin (SF) won 29 percent and thus a majority of the seats. For the first time, an Irish nationalist party is the strongest political force in the Belfast Parliament.
From this derives the claim of the regional SF boss Michelle O’Neill to the office of Prime Minister. A consociational government with a representative of the largest group loyal to London can only be formed if the DUP (21 percent), punished by the electorate, appoints a representative as deputy prime minister. This is denied by DUP boss Jeffrey Donaldson.
Addressing these refusers, the Prime Minister wrote in an article for the “Belfast Telegraph” that the electorate had given their politicians a clear mandate: “Focus on everyday problems, schools, hospitals, the cost of living.” to breathe life into political institutions: “Get back to work.”
As a concession to the unionist side, however, Johnson and his chief negotiator for Northern Ireland, Truss, have been pushing for a reformulation of the so-called protocol for weeks. This agreement is part of the UK’s exit agreement with the EU. It is intended to keep the land border with the republic open to the south, while ensuring the integrity of the internal market.
As a result, customs and import controls were imposed between Northern Ireland and the British mainland, which angered the Unionists. After months of negotiations, Vice-President of the Commission Maros Sefcovic promised significant improvements to the previously rather petty regulations last October, which London considers insufficient. However, Brussels insists that a renegotiation of the protocol is out of the question.
This is exactly what Truss is striving for. She would prefer a negotiated solution, the minister said to the derisive laughter of the opposition. If necessary, however, London must act unilaterally to change the “serious and serious situation in Northern Ireland”. Truss named the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the common value added tax and subsidy laws as problems. Johnson visited Belfast on Monday and was heavily criticized for it from all sides.