Boris Johnson calls for an end to Northern Ireland's political deadlock
UK

Boris Johnson calls for an end to Northern Ireland’s political deadlock

UK’s Johnson urges end to N Ireland deadlock, which prevents the formation of a regional administration, spares with EU.

London (U K)- British Prime minister Boris Johnson is heading to Northern Ireland to end a political deadlock which prevents the formation of a regional administration.

Johnson said there would be “a necessity to act” if the EU didn’t agree to overhaul post-Brexit trade rules.

The trip comes as Johnson’s government threatens to breach the Brexit agreement with the European Union, which it signed but now blames for the crisis.

This month, northern Irish voters elected a new Assembly, with the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein winning the most seats. It was the first time a party seeking union with the Republic of Ireland won an election in the Protestant unionist stronghold.

The Democratic Unionist Party came in second and refused to form a government. Even convene the assembly until Johnson’s government removes post-Brexit checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

A government cannot be formed under the power-sharing rules established as part of Northern Ireland’s peace process without the cooperation of both nationalist and unionist parties.

Johnson will urge political leaders in Belfast to get back to work and deal with “bread and butter” issues such as the soaring cost of living, his office said Sunday.

But Johnson also accused the EU of refusing to give ground over post-Brexit border checks.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. that shares a border with the EU. When Britain left the bloc in 2020, a deal was agreed to keep the Irish land border free of customs posts. And other checks because an open border is a key pillar of the peace process that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland. Instead, there are checks on some goods, such as meat and eggs, entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the U.K.

The arrangement is opposed by unionists in Northern Ireland, who say the new checks have burdened businesses and frayed the bonds between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.

The British government agrees that the regulations destabilise Northern Ireland’s peace agreement, which relies on support from Protestant unionist and Catholic nationalist communities.

The prime minister’s office said Sunday that the trade agreement — which Johnson’s government negotiated and signed — had “resulted in the unionist community feeling like its aspirations and identity are threatened.”

In the Belfast Telegraph, Johnson accused the EU of failing to recognise that the arrangements weren’t working.

“I hope the EU’s position changes. If it does not, he will need to act,” he wrote.

Johnson said his government would “set out a more detailed assessment and next steps to Parliament in the coming days.”

The U.K. has said it may pass a law allowing it to override parts of the Brexit treaty if the EU doesn’t agree to scrap the checks. If that happened, the EU would hit back with legal action — and potentially trade sanctions. The 27-nation bloc is Britain’s most significant economic partner.

Ivan Rogers, a former British ambassador to the EU, said, “I think there’s a severe risk that we are heading into a trade war.”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said Britain’s “sabre-rattling and grandstanding” was undermining Northern Ireland peace “when the world needs the Western world to be united, to be acting in concert to solve problems together.”

“The last thing the EU wants, the last thing that Ireland wants, is tension with the U.K., particularly at the moment given what’s happening in Ukraine, Russian aggression, and the need to work together on an international stage,”

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