The Northern Ireland protocol saga is back following Sinn Féin’s extraordinary assembly election victory last week. The Democratic Unionist Party has said it won’t return to government and form a coalition unless the protocol is scrapped.
The post-Brexit agreement between the UK and the EU – meant to regulate checks of goods travelling between the EU, Northern Ireland and Great Britain – is causing divisions in Westminster too.
Liz Truss is said to be pushing for an overhaul, while Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove are wary of provoking a potential trade war with the EU. The government’s position is that physical checks and curbs on goods traversing between Britain and Northern Ireland hurt the very nature of the UK.
But the EU are concerned that without physical checks goods which fall short of their requirements will be able to pass freely into the trading bloc. Any unilateral action from Westminster could also be cast as a break in the trade pact agreed in 2020.