Dublin, Feb 28 (EFE).- The United Kingdom’s prime minister Rishi Sunak urged parties in Northern Ireland to return to the power-sharing government in the nation after he struck a long-awaited post-Brexit deal on trade.
The Conservative Party leader traveled to Northern Ireland on Tuesday after meeting with the head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen to present the so-called Windsor Framework, a deal that replaces the Northern Ireland Protocol.
At a meeting with workers at a Coca-Cola factory near Belfast, Sunak heralded the new agreement as a tool that would give Northern Ireland the “unique” position of having access to the UK and EU markets.
“That’s like the world’s most exciting economic zone,” he said.
The PM’s trip to Northern Ireland is widely regarded as a charm offensive to get the Democratic Unionist Party to accept the deal and revive the local government, which it has boycotted for the last year due to its opposition to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“The framework is a fantastic agreement that delivers on all the things people care about. So, now I hope that they do see it and see that and they can find a way to come back together,” Sunak said Tuesday without directly naming the DUP.
“It’s what you deserve,” he added.
The DUP opposed the old protocol over the perceived barriers the deal would have raised between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Sinn Féin, an Irish republican party that believes in the reunification of Ireland, currently holds a majority in the Northern Irish Assembly, a power-sharing executive as enshrined by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that restored tentative peace to a nation torn apart by decades of sectarian and nationalist violence.
The DUP’s leader, Jeffrey Donaldson, told the BBC on Tuesday morning that the party would study the Windsor Framework and come to a “collective decision.”
The Windsor Framework will be put to a vote in the House of Commons, the UK’s lower chamber of parliament, where the DUP has representation but which is boycotted by Sinn Féin.
One of the key elements of the new deal would be to reduce customs checks on products arriving in Northern Ireland from Great Britain, so long as they are not destined for the EU.
The crux of Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit issue lies in the fact it is a British territory on the island of Ireland, meaning it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member.
Northern Irish voters rejected Brexit in the 2016 referendum, unlike their counterparts in England and Wales.EFE