Q&A: What is the new Brexit deal over Northern Ireland – and what are the pitfalls?
- Concerns remain as to whether EU law trumps UK law in Northern Ireland
- Rishi Sunak is said to believe the deal meets all the DUP’s seven ‘red line’ tests
What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?
It’s the post-Brexit trading deal agreed between London and Brussels that lets goods be transported across the Irish land border without the need for checks.
What is the likely new deal?
Almost all checks and most paperwork on trade crossing the Irish Sea would be scrapped. Crucially, it is still not clear if Westminster would set Northern Ireland’s VAT and state aid policy. The Northern Irish Assembly and the UK Government would have the right to be consulted on, and challenge, new EU laws affecting the province.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends a news conference in Brussels, Belgium February 16, 2023
Rishi Sunak is said to believe the deal meets all the DUP’s seven ‘red line’ tests – but its leaders have scuppered attempted deals in the past. Pictured: DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson at the Culloden Hotel in Belfast, Northern Ireland, February 17, 2023
Would the deal address sovereignty?
Concerns remain around the question of whether EU law ultimately trumps UK law in Northern Ireland. Under the proposed deal, there’s controversially expected to be a role for the European Court of Justice, but only as a court of last resort and after referral by the Northern Irish courts.
Is the Democratic Unionist Party expected to accept?
Rishi Sunak is said to believe the deal meets all the DUP’s seven ‘red line’ tests – but its leaders have scuppered attempted deals in the past.
What does Boris Johnson say?
He’s urged Mr Sunak to keep legislation he himself introduced as PM to allow the Government to unilaterally rip up the present Brexit deal. It has been put on hold as talks continue. However, Downing Street says any deal would make the Johnson legislation redundant.
Would Northern Irish manufacturers face issues in the future?
At present, goods made in Northern Ireland can be sold to the EU and UK without any ‘Brexit paperwork’. However, it is not clear what might happen if the UK diverges from EU rules in the future. Manufacturers may have to create two separate products, one for each market. The British Government is understood to have insisted that Northern Irish goods can be sold throughout the UK.
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