The UK will focus on efforts to reform the Northern Ireland Protocol in an effort to preserve stability, Dominic Raab said as the government grappled with the implications of Sinn Fein’s Stormont success.
The victory in the Stormont races was the first for a Republican party and “marks the beginning of a new era” of politics, Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O’Neill said.
His party is committed to a border poll on unification with Ireland, although that is not a likely prospect in the short term, and Raab noted that the majority of voters in Northern Ireland had not supported Sinn Fein’s position.
“If you look at the results in Northern Ireland, 58% of people voted for parties that support the Union or for parties that do not support constitutional change and that is the message from the people of Northern Ireland,” Raab told Sky. News. .
“We don’t have an executive yet, I think the first priority, given that 58% of people in Northern Ireland don’t ask for that kind of change, is to get the executive going.”
O’Neill’s hopes of becoming prime minister in a shared executive power hinge on the unionist DUP, the second largest party, joining an administration, something he has ruled out unless there are major changes to the post-conflict deal. Northern Ireland Brexit.
Raab said the government would take “whatever steps are necessary” to resolve problems related to the protocol.
But he declined to say whether action on the Northern Ireland Protocol would be included in the queen’s speech on Tuesday.
He told Sky News: “If anything, the result in Northern Ireland of that election makes it clear that it cannot be postponed.”
He suggested it would be addressed in the “weeks and months” to come, warning that stability in Northern Ireland was being “jeopardized” by the dispute over the protocol, which was agreed by Boris Johnson’s government as part of the Brexit divorce from the EU. . .
The impasse will heighten tensions between Westminster and Brussels, with the UK insisting all options remain on the table, including the possibility of unilaterally scrapping elements of the deal.
That could trigger a major rift in relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union.
The protocol effectively creates controls on goods flowing from Britain to Northern Ireland to allow for an open border with Ireland, which is within the EU’s single market and customs union.
“We will deal with the situation, we will take the necessary steps to protect the economic and constitutional integrity of Northern Ireland,” Raab said.
He indicated that the protocol had been used as a “political device” by Brussels.
Ireland’s Europe Minister Thomas Byrne said “a decisive majority” of Stormont’s elected MLAs want the protocol to work and called on the UK to “engage in a renewed way with the European Union” on the issue.