HomeEconomicsAmidst Uncertainty, Embracing the New Brexit Deal Is Britain's Best Option

    Amidst Uncertainty, Embracing the New Brexit Deal Is Britain’s Best Option

    Why the Windsor Framework is a Pragmatic Solution for Northern Ireland’s Brexit Woes?

    Brexit has been a contentious issue for Northern Ireland due to its land border with the EU. While everyone agreed that a hard border with customs controls would risk the peace process, leaving the EU’s single market and customs union meant that there had to be a border somewhere.

    Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal opted to take Great Britain out of the single market and customs union, but leave Northern Ireland in both, leading to the creation of an east-west border in the Irish Sea. However, Johnson was quick to disavow the deal when controls were imposed, and later introduced a bill to tear up parts of the treaty protocol.

    Now, it’s up to Rishi Sunak, Johnson’s successor, to clean up the mess. His solution, the Windsor Framework, simplifies border controls required by the protocol. Green lanes and trusted traders will minimize checks on goods not likely to move into the EU single market, while EU officials will have access to real-time trade data. The consultative mechanism will give an emergency brake on applying future single-market rule changes in Northern Ireland.

    Despite being welcomed by many businesses and voters in the province, Brexit ideologues in the Conservative Party and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) are unhappy with Sunak’s failure to secure changes to the protocol’s treaty text. They also oppose the European Court of Justice retaining jurisdiction in Northern Ireland. However, dropping the bill to rip up the protocol eliminates unnecessary checks and is a pragmatic solution to Northern Ireland’s Brexit woes.

    Opponents of Rishi Sunak’s deal on the protocol should reconsider their positions. Hardline Tory MPs who oppose the deal have not offered a serious alternative, and sticking with the status quo disrupts trade and could lead to renewed litigation. Persisting with the bill to allow unilateral repudiation of the protocol would break international law and damage relations with the EU. Renewed in-fighting over Brexit would also damage Sunak’s government and the Tories’ electoral chances.

    The DUP, meanwhile, is correct to complain that the protocol erects barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. However, it’s worth remembering that Brexit, which the DUP backed, was rejected by a majority in Northern Ireland. Most voters support a better-functioning protocol that could give Northern Ireland unfettered access to both the EU and UK markets. While Sunak’s deal may not give the DUP everything it wants, it’s the best option available, and rejecting it will not lead to a better deal. Instead, accepting the deal could clear the way for the DUP’s eventual return to the power-sharing executive, which is badly needed in Northern Ireland.

    It’s important to find a pragmatic solution to the issues surrounding the protocol, and Sunak’s deal offers a starting point for achieving that. Opponents should put aside their differences and work towards a better future for Northern Ireland, rather than engaging in political posturing and in-fighting.


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