LONDON — The deal Britain and the European Union reached on Monday, after weeks of secret talks and multiple false starts, could have far-reaching economic and political consequences — averting a possible trade war between Britain and the European Union and opening the door to the EU. Restoration of devolved government in Northern Ireland.
It could also remove the lingering annoyances between Britain and the United States. President Biden has pleaded with Mr Sunak to negotiate an end to the trade impasse, and a deal could facilitate his visit to London and Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, which ended decades of bloodshed. known as problems.
But the deal poses a huge risk for Mr Sunak, opening him up to a backlash from pro-Brexit hardliners in his own Conservative party and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which has campaigned to rewrite the rules of post-Brexit trade, rather than simply tweaking them, as Mr. Sunak and Mrs. von der Leyen.
The unique status of Northern Ireland — which is part of the United Kingdom but shares a land border with Ireland, and is a member of the European Union and its single market — has made its current trading terms a totemic issue for Brexiteers and unionists, the largely Protestant part of the territory’s population that wants to remain in power. United kingdom.
The rules are designed to avoid checks at the land border, which would be unacceptable to Ireland and Northern Ireland nationalists, the largely Catholic part of the population who want the territory reunited with Ireland.
For Mr Sunak, who came to power last October and trails the opposition Labor Party in opinion polls, the deal is a critical test for his young government. The negative reaction may embolden one of his predecessors, Boris Johnson, who was ousted last year but may have ambitions to return.
Part of the problem is that Mr Sunak negotiated the deal with Ms von der Leyen under a veil of secrecy. This has heightened skepticism among unionists and Brexiteers, who oppose any deal that applies EU trade rules to Northern Ireland, and does not treat it like other countries in the UK.
Mr Sunak was also non-binding on whether Parliament would be allowed to approve it. On Sunday, Sunak’s deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, refused to confirm that lawmakers in Westminster would vote on the deal.
“Parliament will find a way to have its say,” Mr Raab told Sky News, without elaborating what that meant.
The outline agreement will renew a document known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was created to avoid the need for customs controls on goods crossing the politically sensitive border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and enter into force in early 2021. Under the protocol, Ireland remains within parts of the European single market. , sticking to its economic rulebook.
But the protocol also created a different trade barrier, requiring checks on goods transported from Britain to Northern Ireland. This angered much of Northern Ireland’s unionist community, who feared it would drive a wedge between them and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Under the terms of the New Deal, goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland that were supposed to stay there would pass through a “green” channel without routine checks. Those heading to Ireland will pass through a ‘Red’ channel which will have more controls.
Perhaps most important for the Democratic Unionists are moves to give Northern Irish politicians an “emergency brake” on having to put in place any new or updated European legislation.
To protest the protocol, the DUP boycotted the Northern Ireland Assembly and the devolved government. To ensure power-sharing between trade unionists and nationalists, the system shuts down unless the largest parties on both sides agree to participate.
Whether the new agreement is strong enough to persuade the party to return to Northern Ireland’s government will be one of the tests of the success of Mr Sunak’s negotiations.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Mr Sunak said, “I want to correct the democratic deficit because sovereignty really matters, and that’s why the idea that the EU can impose laws on Northern Ireland without giving their opinion is unacceptable.”
The other major reaction will be from Brexit supporters, including Mr Johnson. He agreed to the Protocol during his time in office, but later infuriated EU countries by introducing legislation intended to give the British government power to override some of them.
The law is currently under scrutiny by the House of Lords, the unelected reviewing chamber of the British Parliament, but Mr Sunak has agreed to scrap it as the price of the concessions Brussels has offered. Mr. Johnson, According to British news reportsTo the Allies, abandoning the bill would be a “big mistake”.
Some observers believe that Mr Johnson is preparing to destabilize Mr Sunak’s leadership and may try to oust him if the Conservative Party does poorly in local municipal elections due in May.
“He wants to bring down Rishi Sunak, and he will use any tool to do so.” George Osborne, One governor and former finance minister told Channel 4 in late February. “And if the Northern Ireland negotiations were that tool, he would pick it up and bash Mr Sunak on the head with it.”
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