LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated Monday’s threat to break the Brexit deal with the European Union, blaming it on a political crisis that is preventing the formation of a new government in Northern Ireland.
Ahead of his visit to Belfast, Johnson said if the EU did not agree to an overhaul of post-Brexit trade rules, which he said were upsetting Northern Ireland’s delicate political balance, then “action is necessary”.
Voters in Northern Ireland elected a new parliament this month, poll results show Sinn Fein, Irish nationalist party Win the most seats. This is the first time a party seeking to unite with the Republic of Ireland has won an election in the bastion of Protestant unionism.
The Democratic Unionist Party came in second, refusing to form a government or even allow parliament to sit until the Johnson government lifted post-Brexit checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK
Under power-sharing rules set up as part of the Northern Ireland peace process, no government can be formed without the cooperation of nationalist and trade union parties
Johnson was due to meet party leaders in Belfast and urged them to return to work and “focus on day-to-day issues”. School. Hospital. living cost. “
But he also accused the EU of refusing to budge on post-Brexit border checks.
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that borders the EU. When Britain leaves the European Union in 2020, a deal was struck to free Ireland’s land borders from customs posts and other checks, as open borders are a key pillar of the peace process to end decades of violence in Northern Ireland.Instead, checks are carried out on some goods (such as meat and eggs) entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK
The arrangement has been opposed by unionists in Northern Ireland, who say the new cheques are burdening businesses and undermining links between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK
The UK government agrees that the provisions, known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, are undermining a peace deal that relies on the support of Protestant unions and Catholic nationalist communities.
While the DUP wants to repeal the protocol, most other parties in Northern Ireland want to keep it, and make changes.
“The unabashed fact is that the delicate balance created (by the peace deal) in 1998 has been upset,” Johnson wrote. “Parts of Northern Irish politics feel that their aspirations and identity are influenced by the protocol.”
In the Belfast Telegraph, Johnson accused the EU of failing to recognise that the arrangements were not working. He said the government wanted to change, not scrap the agreement.
“I hope there is a change in the EU’s position. If not, action will be necessary,” he wrote.
Johnson said his government would “present a more detailed assessment and next steps to Parliament in the coming days”. This is likely to be legislation giving the UK the power to overturn parts of the Brexit treaty.
Any such bill would take months to pass parliament, but a unilateral move would anger the EU, which will fight back with legal action and possible trade sanctions. The group of 27 countries is the UK’s largest economic partner.
Ivan Rogers, the former British ambassador to the European Union, said: “I think we are at serious risk of falling into a trade war.”
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Britain’s feud with the EU “is the last thing Europe needs right now because we’ve worked so well together in the face of Russian aggression and the support Ukraine needs at this time.”
“This is a time for calm, a time for dialogue, a time for compromise and cooperation between the EU and the UK to resolve these outstanding issues,” he said in Brussels.
More AP coverage of Brexit: https://apnews.com/hub/brexit