Johnson urges UK to end stalemate in Northern Ireland, argues with EU

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson heads to Northern Ireland to try to end a political deadlock that is preventing the formation of a regional administration

LONDON (AP) — British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Northern Ireland on Monday to try to end a political deadlock that has prevented the formation of a regional administration.

The trip comes amid threats from the Johnson government to rip up the Brexit deal with the European Union, which it blames for the crisis.

The Democratic Unionist Party came second and refuses to form a government, or even allow the assembly to meet, until the Johnson government removes post-Brexit controls on goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest. from United Kingdom.

Under power-sharing rules established as part of the Northern Ireland peace process, a government cannot be formed without the cooperation of the nationalist and unionist parties.

Johnson will urge political leaders in Belfast to get back to work and deal with basic issues such as the rising cost of living, his office said on Sunday. He said he too would accuse the EU of refusing to give ground on post-Brexit border controls and warned that Britain would have a “need to act” unless the bloc changes its position.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK 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 controls, because an open border is a key pillar of the peace process that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland. . Instead, there are controls on some products, such as meat and eggs, coming into Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

The deal is opposed by Northern Ireland unionists, who say the new controls have put a strain on businesses and frayed ties between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The British government agrees that the regulations are destabilizing the Northern Ireland peace deal, which is dependent on support from both the unionist Protestant and nationalist Catholic communities.

The prime minister’s office said on Sunday that the trade deal, which the Johnson government negotiated and signed, “has resulted in the unionist community feeling that their aspirations and identity are threatened.”

The UK has said it may pass legislation allowing it to override parts of the Brexit deal if the EU does not agree to remove the controls. If that were to happen, the EU would respond with legal action and potentially trade sanctions. The 27-nation bloc is Britain’s largest economic partner.

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

Ireland’s foreign minister, Simon Coveney, said Britain’s “saber rattling and bragging” was undermining peace in Northern Ireland “at a time when the world needs the Western world to be united, which act in concert to solve problems together.

“The last thing the EU wants, the last thing Ireland wants, is tension with the UK, particularly at the moment given what is happening in Ukraine, Russian aggression and the need to work together on an international stage,” he told SkyNews. .

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