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Northern Ireland: London calls on the EU to resolve the impasse


LONDON (awp/afp) – The British minister responsible for Northern Ireland has repeated that it is up to the European Union to soften its position to resolve the dispute over the post-Brexit provisions in this British province in political crisis .

The British government has provoked the anger of Brussels and Washington by threatening to act unilaterally to modify the Northern Irish protocol, concluded within the framework of Brexit and providing for specific customs controls for the British province.

London is thus trying to appease the discontent of the Northern Irish Unionists who refuse to participate in a new government in Belfast – led for the first time by the Republicans of Sinn Fein after their victory in the local elections on May 5 – if the protocol is not modified.

Asked by the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, the minister responsible for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, said he feared that the absence of an executive in Northern Ireland would continue if Brussels did not give ground.

“I myself made this point to the EU before the election. In my opinion, it was much easier to get an agreement before the election than after,” he told the newspaper. . “The idea that it was going to be easier after the election was crazy from the EU,” he added.

The protocol was signed to protect the European single market after Brexit without causing the return of a hard border between British Northern Ireland and the European Republic of Ireland, and thus preserve the peace concluded in 1998 with the agreement Good Friday, after three decades of bloody unrest between Unionists and Republicans.

London wants to renegotiate this protocol in depth. The EU, which reiterated on Friday its desire to reach “common solutions”, is only ready for adjustments.

This text creates a de facto customs border with Great Britain and threatens, according to the unionists, the place of the province within the United Kingdom to which they are viscerally attached.

After London made its intentions clear, US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed “deep concern”, warning that the US Congress would block a coveted UK free trade deal if peace was threatened.

On Saturday, the head of British diplomacy, Liz Truss, welcomed a delegation of American parliamentarians led by Democrat Richard Neal. The latter evoked on Twitter a “frank discussion concerning our duty to protect peace and stability on the island of Ireland”.

He called for “good faith negotiations with the EU to find lasting solutions to post-Brexit trade between Britain and Northern Ireland”.

Ms Truss said on Twitter that she had discussed the UK’s “unwavering commitment” to the Good Friday Agreement with him.

According to The Observer newspaper, however, the minister told the US delegation that London could not let the political stalemate “draw on” in Northern Ireland.

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