Brexit has been out of the question for some time – that is, until tomorrow. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced his intention to rescind the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, which aims to prevent a hard border between the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU) and Northern Ireland (part of the UK). At the time, there was a need to protect the 1998 peace accord that ended decades of sectarian violence often referred to as “The Troubles.”
Background: The Northern Ireland Protocol has been in force since 2020, following years of deliberation and negotiation on how to regulate trade after Brexit. The agreement separates parts of the UK by creating a border in the Irish Sea between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland. Communities in the region who identify strongly as British have said it separates them from the UK, while some UK companies have severed ties with Northern Irish companies due to increased paperwork.
A new border control regime is being created under new Johnson-sponsored legislation that he says will reduce political tensions and business disruptions. Goods from the UK destined to remain in Northern Ireland pass through the green lane without inspection, while goods crossing the open border in the Republic of Ireland and the European Union’s internal market are subjected to red lane inspection. The bill would also remove the role of the European Court of Justice in regulating the protocol, end EU scrutiny over state aid and VAT in Northern Ireland and give ministers reserve power to amend other clauses of the protocol if necessary. will do
Outlook: The EU is furious at the new law, saying it risks a trade war with the bloc and threatening legal action. Critics also say the move violates international law and could seriously damage Britain’s reputation on the world stage as Johnson seeks to rally support after a controversy over Partygate. Britain’s relations with Washington could also be strained as President Biden has repeatedly said stability in Northern Ireland is a personal priority.
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