Briefly: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak struck a deal with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Monday (27 February) to break a years-long deadlock over Northern Ireland (NI).
A little background: The Republic of Ireland is part of the EU, while NI is part of the UK. They both share an island (called Ireland). Some on the island (up north) are proudly British. Others are proudly Irish. Some are proudly both. And everyone was part of the EU… until Brexit.
The UK then signed a deal with the EU known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, to avoid dividing the island with polarising EU-UK border checks. Until now, this meant EU officials instead checked goods on ships passing between the British mainland and the island.
However, pro-British voices on the island (aka ‘unionists’) didn’t like the way this separated them from the British mainland, and instead wanted a ‘hard’ EU-UK land border between the Republic of Ireland and NI.
Pro-Irish voices (aka ‘nationalists’) oppose dividing the island like this: it hasn’t had a land border since the Good Friday Agreement ended decades of sectarian violence in 1998.
The Windsor Framework, announced outside Windsor Castle on Monday, attempts to resolve it all. The Framework allows NI to be in both the UK and EU markets by creating:
- 🟢 A “green lane” to eliminate the customs border for British goods destined for NI, and
- 🔴 A “red lane” to preserve the customs border for British goods destined for the Republic of Ireland.
Intrigue’s take: Brexit is the ultimate political quicksand, helping drag several of Sunak’s predecessors to their demise. Many pro-Brexit lawmakers in Sunak’s own party (plus pro-British lawmakers in NI) oppose this latest deal, and have promised to vote against it when given the opportunity. Something tells us this isn’t the last we’ll hear of Brexit 😒.
Also worth noting: