Breakthrough on Ireland’s Brexit border

The UK and the EU have today reached agreement on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to Northern Ireland. As part of the deal, the UK will withdraw planned legislation that would have over-ridden international law.

Following intensive and constructive work over the past weeks by the EU and the UK, the two co-chairs can now announce their agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland…

…In view of these mutually agreed solutions, the UK will withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the UK Internal Market Bill, and not introduce any similar provisions in the Taxation Bill. (European Commission)

While this must be a very positive development, wider negotiations on a trade deal are still in the balance ahead of Boris Johnson's talks with Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen in Brussels this week.

Nevertheless, it now looks more likely that the Withdrawal Agreement will stick even in a no deal scenario. This has historic implications for Northern Ireland. 

Although there are bound to be teething problems given the lateness of the deal, in principle, the North South border will remain open, and a sea border between Britain and Northern Ireland will emerge to the extent that Britain diverges from the EU.

Northern Ireland unionists no longer have the leverage that they did in recent parliaments, but a trade deal is now very much in unionist interests. Even with a deal, we may see the Northern Ireland economy aligning much more closely with the Republic in future.



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