The Brexit agreements between the European Union and the United Kingdom on Northern Ireland are untenable, according to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. According to a spokesman for the prime minister, the situation in the area is now “dire”.
Pro-British politicians in Northern Ireland have previously said they will not provide ministers for the Northern Ireland government if the agreements are not amended. This threatens an impasse in forming a government because an agreement in principle prescribes that pro-British Protestants and pro-Irish Catholics must be in every cabinet.
The status of Northern Ireland after the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union has long been a major political issue. Since Ireland is an EU member, customs controls on goods should be introduced at the border with Northern Ireland, but this is very sensitive. After decades of fighting between pro-Irish Catholics and pro-British Protestants, a 1990s peace deal agreed that there would never be a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
After Brexit, the border between the EU and the United Kingdom has now been drawn between Northern Ireland and the British Isle to keep this possible. As a result, customs now have to check goods transported between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Earlier this week, The Times reported that British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wants to abolish Northern Ireland’s special EU status. This would mean giving up attempts to reach a solution with the EU about the area. Johnson claims that the European Commission, the EU’s executive board, is not making enough effort to prevent “economic and political disruption” in Northern Ireland.
Last weekend, the pro-Irish party Sinn Féin became the largest party in Northern Ireland’s parliamentary elections. That party wants a referendum on the reunification of Northern Ireland with Ireland but does not want to organize it immediately.