Status: 05/13/2022 7:44 p.m.
Barely elected and already unable to work: the dispute over the special Brexit status for Northern Ireland paralyzes the regional parliament. The pro-British DUP party has blocked the election of the speaker of parliament in protest against trade regulations.
The newly elected parliament in Northern Ireland is unable to work. The main Protestant party in the British part of the country, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), refused to elect a Speaker of Parliament. She was protesting against the Brexit rules for Northern Ireland agreed with the EU. The DUP has decided not to vote for a speaker or nominate its own candidate, party leader Jeffrey Donaldson said during the first session of the newly elected National Assembly.
“We need to send a clear message to the European Union and to our government that we are serious about fighting the protocol because of the damage it is causing,” Donaldson said.
Brexit rules protest
The DUP is calling on the UK government to cancel the deal it made with the EU under the Brexit deal. The regulation aims to avoid checks at the border with the Republic of Ireland, member of the EU, and to avoid the dispute between supporters and opponents of a merger of the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland does not flare up again.
Instead, however, a customs border emerged between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The British government and supporters of the Union like the DUP therefore fear alienation from London.
The boycott will continue until trade regulations are lifted, the DUP said. Party leader Donaldson said the party’s criticism of the new trading rules – also known as the Northern Ireland Protocol – was not just a political row. “The protocol is a direct challenge to the principles that have underpinned every agreement in Northern Ireland for the past 25 years,” he said. “It undermines the foundations on which decentralization was built.”
Catholic-Republican Sinn-Fein Vice-Chair Michelle O’Neill went on to accuse the DUP of holding the people of Northern Ireland hostage with its blocking attitude for its failed Brexit policy. Sinn Fein had won the regional elections. Interfaith Alliance Party leader Naomi Long called the DUP’s position “incredibly frustrating”.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin also called on the DUP to end its blocking position. “Yes, there are issues that unionists have brought to our attention regarding protocol,” Martin said. “But these problems should not prevent us from constituting the regional assembly and forming a government.”
Regional Parliament currently unable to work
The Protestant DUP came second in last week’s elections to Northern Ireland’s regional parliament. The winner of the election is the Catholic party Sinn Fein, which aspires to union with Ireland. According to an agreement, Sinn Fein is now allowed to hold the post of Prime Minister, while the DUP takes over the post of Deputy Minister. A government can only be formed when both positions are filled.
The DUP made it a condition that the Northern Ireland Protocol be repealed and border controls on goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK be abolished.
In the Brexit referendum in 2016, the DUP campaigned for the UK to leave the EU and later, along with the Conservative Party’s Brexit hardliners, blocked a compromise solution called ” backstop” by then British Prime Minister Theresa May. The Northern Ireland protocol, which the DUP rejects, is therefore not insignificant due to their own actions.
Rees-Mogg: EU wants to punish London for Brexit
In the dispute over Brexit rules for Northern Ireland, a British member of government has accused the EU of wanting to punish Britain for leaving the EU. “I think she wants to make the UK feel bad about leaving the EU,” Brexit Opportunities Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg told the BBC. “It underpins their whole policy and they don’t really care about the consequences,” he said of the EU.
Britain should not be considerate, according to Rees-Mogg. “We have to go our own way. We are an independent country and what the EU wants and thinks is secondary.” He accused the EU of acting in bad faith. The contract provides for an overhaul, he claimed. However, this has not happened yet.
The British government in London is pushing for a renegotiation of the deal signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson himself. In the meantime, she issued an ultimatum to the EU to accept the treaty changes. Otherwise, you want to terminate the settlement unilaterally. In this case, a trade war could be looming.
EU insists on Northern Ireland Protocol
EU officials had previously announced that unilateral action by the government in London would affect trade privileges. Brussels insists that the Northern Ireland Protocol is a legally binding international treaty. The EU proposed changes, but Britain rejected them as insufficient and counterproductive.
European Commissioner Maros Sefcovic, in charge of negotiations with the British government, said it was necessary to be honest that the EU cannot solve all the problems created by Brexit.
The chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market Committee, Anna Cavazzini, has called it “absurd and irresponsible” that London is now entering into a dispute with the EU as a diversionary tactic. “It shows that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has his back against the wall in domestic politics.”