Sunak’s ‘seismic’ deal resolves N. Ireland border problem – but DUP support remains elusive

© Dan Kitwood, Reuters

The Northern Irish question has caused endless headaches in Belfast, London and Brussels throughout the Brexit saga. Now analysts say the deal Prime Minister Rishi Sunak struck with the EU Commission this week offers genuine resolution of the problem. However, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP)’s backing will be needed to get the Northern Irish parliament functioning again – and, true to form, their support is elusive.

To understand the significance of Sunak’s achievement, flash back to 2019. Brexit talks had repeatedly faltered over the Northern Irish border – consuming the British public’s patience along with Theresa May’s premiership. Boris Johnson entered Downing Street promising to resolve the conundrum.

Johnson reached his deal in October 2019 by replacing the troubling prospect of a new border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic with the troubling reality of a new border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The Northern Ireland protocol in Johnson’s agreement kept the British province in the European single market for goods – and that meant a customs border in the Irish Sea.

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