British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wants to abolish Northern Ireland’s special EU status, the British newspaper The Times reports. Truss would have given up her attempt to reach an agreement with the EU around the Brexit deal.
According to The Times, employees of the Foreign Minister are said to have drafted a bill that unilaterally removes mandatory customs controls for goods sent from the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland. In addition, according to the draft law, companies in Northern Ireland no longer have to comply with EU rules and legislation.
In addition, the European Court of justice would no longer be allowed to rule on cases related to Northern Ireland, the newspaper said.
Following the British departure from the European Union, it was agreed that Northern Ireland would remain part of the European single market, despite Northern Ireland being part of the United Kingdom. Therefore, all goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain (England, Wales and Scotland) must now comply with European rules.
This arrangement was chosen so that there would not be a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland again after Brexit. In 1998, the UK and Ireland signed a peace treaty, the so-called Good Friday Agreement, which ended years of violence between British-minded Protestants and pro-Irish Catholics. An open border was an important part of that. Setting a hard border again could reignite the conflict and is therefore taboo.
According to The Times, the official decision to suspend Northern Ireland’s special EU status is expected next week. A spokesman for Truss ‘ office told Reuters that no decisions have yet been made on the progress of the negotiations, but that the situation is “very serious” at the moment.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday reiterated through his spokesman that the Brexit agreements between the EU and the UK are untenable as far as he is concerned. He called the situation “very serious”.
In Northern Ireland, Johnson could count on the support of the pro-British and pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), but it lost the majority in the Northern Irish parliamentary elections last week. The former political arm of the IRA Sinn Féin is now the largest party and that complicates Johnson’s plans to throw the Brexit agreements overboard.
Sinn Féin has long called for a reunified Ireland, but will not immediately organize a referendum on it. However, the historic victory, according to Politico, means that Stormont, as the Irish parliament is called, is no longer in favor of blowing up the Brexit protocol.
This is in contrast to the DUP, now the second largest party, which previously said it would not participate in a new Northern Ireland government as long as Downing Street does not make work of scrapping the Brexit agreements.
Since The Good Friday Agreement stipulates that the largest nationalist and unionist parties must work together, this can cause major problems in the formation of the cabinet and possibly lead to new elections.