Northern Ireland reset?

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a new deal with the European Union aimed at resolving the bitter dispute over the Brexit Northern Ireland protocol.

Announced on February 27, Sunak and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen hailed the “Windsor Framework” as a “new chapter” after 6 years of scrappy relations, newspapers in both the UK and the EU headlined a “Brexit breakthrough”, and no hardline Brexiteers openly or immediately opposed the deal.

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) said it would examine the detail of the agreement before stating its position. The conservative Protestant party has fiercely fought Boris Johnson’s Brexit protocol which effectively imposed a trade border down the Irish Sea and closed the Northern Irish parliament at Stormont by refusing to participate in power sharing until the issue was resolved.

The Windsor Framework would replace the current Northern Ireland protocol to:

  • simplify trade across the Irish Sea by creating two different trade “lanes” – one with significantly reduced checks between Britain and Northern Ireland and the other retaining checks on goods involving the Irish Republic
  • scrap current protocol bans on certain food and plant products
  • ease current rules on pets, medicines, and parcels
  • reinstate UK tax revenue by replacing current EU value added tax (VAT) rules in Northern Ireland with UK VAT and excise rules on alcohol and immovable goods

Perhaps most importantly, controversially, and politically, the new agreement reduces the amount of EU law that applies in Northern Ireland, provides a mechanism for Northern Irish politicians to dispute new EU rules, and potentially reduces the scope of jurisdiction by the European Court of Justice, a massive ideological issue for the DUP and hardline Brexiteers.

After the DUP reaction there will be a vote in the UK parliament on the new agreement.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hails new deal – BBC
Rishi Sunak makes deal – Reuters
The Windsor Framework
The deal highlights
The deal details
UK newspaper reaction
European newspapers
The Sunak sell – FT
The Sunak sell – The Telegraph
What now for Boris Johnson? – The Guardian
The end of Boris Johnson? – iNews