Brexit: EU and Sunak to agree on Ireland Border, but UK Conservatives Oppose the Deal

Lorenzo Bagnato

27 February 2023 - 11:48

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The president of the EU Commission and UK prime minister Rishi Sunak will meet to finalize the Northern Ireland deal. But British Conservatives might oppose it.

Brexit: EU and Sunak to agree on Ireland Border, but UK Conservatives Oppose the Deal

The final chapter of Brexit might finally close as UK prime minister Rishi Sunak and president of EU Commission Ursula Von Der Leyen meet today. The last part of the complicated seizure of the United Kingdom from the European Union concerns the land border on Ireland.

The island is divided in two: the Republic of Ireland, a sovereign state member of the EU, and Northern Ireland, a region of the UK. Northern Ireland has the same sovereignty as Scotland does, though its land border with the Republic of Ireland caused countless disputes.

Northern Ireland’s population consists of English and Irish, Catholics and Protestants, Unionists and Separatists. So many divisions that fueled a low-level war between 1960 and 1998, a period of conflict known as “The Troubles”.

The Troubles finally ended in 1998 with the Good Friday Agreement, a peace deal brokered by the European Union.

With Brexit, many feared a resurgence of the Troubles now that a hard border has been formed between Ireland and Northern Ireland. To this end, former UK prime minister Boris Johnson tried to make an initial deal with the European Union.

According to Johnson deal’s, goods coming from Ireland could pass the Northern Ireland border without checks, which would happen when said goods reached Great Britain.

However, this deal, while keeping Northern Ireland effectively still a part of the European Union, isolated it from the rest of the UK. Johnson’s deal was temporary, and now the new prime minister Rishi Sunak is about to formalize a new one.

Sunak’s plan

The proposition brought forward by Rishi Sunak divides goods into two “lanes”. The goods traveling within the United Kingdom would be part of the “green lane”, receiving minimal checks, while goods going to Ireland would be part of the “red lane”, receiving the full set of EU checks and regulations.

The European Union would be theoretically on board with this plan. The problem would be the reaction of Sunak’s own Conservative Party.

Sunak’s proposition would still follow the European Court of Justice regulations, therefore it wouldn’t be the full Brexit the conservatives hope for.

Among others, Boris Johnson said he would not back this deal and that Sunak should instead move forward with the previous protocol.

But Sunak does not have many choices. If he goes forward with the previous protocol, Northern Ireland would oppose it. If he changes this deal to appeal more to Brexiteers, the EU would not agree to it.

As every other Brexit chapter, this one is just as convoluted and overly complicated. In the end, the compromise will leave nobody happy, as always.

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