LONDON (AP) — Northern Ireland’s second-largest political party said it would block the formation of a labor legislature in Belfast on Friday and maintain the boycott until the British government tears up post trade rules. -Brexit, which he accuses of destabilizing the region.
The Democratic Unionist Party’s decision deepens Northern Ireland’s political stalemate, which is fueling a row between the UK and the EU that could turn into a trade war between Britain and the 27-nation EU. ‘European Union.
The DUP came second in an election to the Northern Ireland Assembly last week which saw Irish nationalist Sinn Fein win the most seats – the first time a party that seeks to unite with the Republic of Ireland has won an election in the Protestant bastion of power.
Under Northern Ireland’s mandatory power-sharing rules, this gives Sinn Fein the premiership, with the DUP taking the deputy premiership. A government can only be formed if both roles are fulfilled, and the DUP says it will not participate unless border controls on goods from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland are removed.
The party also says it will prevent lawmakers from electing a president when they meet on Friday, which will prevent the assembly from functioning.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said the party’s concerns over new trading rules, known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, “are not just a political squabble”.
“The protocol is a direct challenge to the principles that have underpinned every agreement reached in Northern Ireland over the past 25 years” of the Northern Ireland peace process, he said. “It erodes the very foundations on which decentralization was built.”
Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill has accused the DUP of “scandalously holding the public to ransom for their Brexit mess”.
Arrangements for Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK that shares a land border with an EU country – were the thorniest point of contention during the UK’s divorce from the bloc, which became final at the end of 2020.
A deal has been reached to keep Ireland’s border free of customs posts and other checks, as an open border is a key pillar of the peace process that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland. Instead, checks are carried out on certain goods, such as meat and eggs, entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
The arrangement is opposed by the DUP and other trade unionists in Northern Ireland, who say the new controls have created a barrier with the rest of the UK that hurts businesses and undermines the British identity of trade unionists.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government says the political stalemate in Belfast is proof the regulations – which it agreed to – are destabilizing Northern Ireland’s peace deal, which relies on support from Protestant Unionist communities and Nationalist Catholics. The UK has said it will act unilaterally to suspend some of the rules if the EU does not agree to major changes.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK would have “no choice but to act” if the EU did not show enough “flexibility”. The UK could introduce legislation giving it the power to override the treaty as early as next week.
The EU accuses Johnson’s government of threatening to break international law by breaching a binding treaty.
“Remember this treaty was crafted, ratified and accepted by the UK government under this prime minister,” Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told the BBC. “He stood for election and won a huge mandate from the British people on the back of this deal and now blames the deal for the problems in Northern Ireland.”
Amid growing signs that the UK is considering scrapping at least part of its Brexit divorce deal, Johnson sent a government minister, Conor Burns, to Washington this week to try to allay fears from US officials. regarding the potential risks to peace in Northern Ireland. President Joe Biden has warned that neither side should do anything to undermine the Good Friday Agreement, the 1998 accord that laid the groundwork for peace.
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