The U.K. and E.U. March 24 have formally adopted a new plan to ease post-Brexit trade tensions in Northern Ireland — despite ongoing objections from the region’s Democratic Unionist Party, Politico reports.
Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party has further isolated itself by refusing to support a key provision of how Brexit impacts the region. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has abstained from the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly for more than a year because of its objections to the trade deal.
Special trade arrangements are necessary because Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland share the only land boarder impacted by Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Six DUP Members of Parliament (London) March 22 voted against the “Stormont brake,” designed to give the Assembly more leverage on how E.U. laws apply to Northern Ireland. The measure passed by 515-29, with a handful of Tory MPs also in opposition, notably former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
“We want to see the restoration of devolved government (the Assembly, also know as Stormont, after the legislative building in Belfast), but we’ve got to do it right,” said DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.
An early March poll by the nationalist-leaning Irish News and the Institute of Irish Studies-University of Liverpool found 45 percent support for the framework, with about 17 percent opposed. Nearly 39 percent neither accepted or rejected the deal. Opposition within the DUP was nearly 23 percent, compared to 36 percent support and 41 percent neutral.
U.S. President Joe Biden, during St. Patrick’s Day remarks in Washington, D.C., called the framework “a vital step … that’s going to help ensure all the people in Northern Ireland have an opportunity to realize their full potential.”
The White House announced that Biden will visit Northern Ireland in the second half of April to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. It seems doubtful the Assembly will be reconstituted by then. Biden also will visit the Republic during the four-day trip.
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