The resignation of the chief minister leaves autonomy in limbo to pressure the EU to abandon the Withdrawal Agreement
The chief minister of Northern Ireland, Paul Givan, has submitted his resignation, which will take effect this Friday and creates a period of uncertainty about the future of the autonomy of the region. The unionist threat of breaking Northern Ireland’s autonomy puts pressure on the European Union to resolve the problems created by the Irish Protocol to the Withdrawal Agreement from the European Union.
The Agreement negotiated by Brussels and London establishes that Northern Ireland will remain in the British market and in the European common market at the same time. To prevent goods from Great Britain from entering the economy of the Republic of Ireland illegitimately, checks are carried out at ports in Northern Ireland.
The Minister of Agriculture, Edwin Poots, of the same party as Givan, the Democratic Unionist (DUP), ordered his officials on Wednesday night not to carry out these controls. Border checks were carried out throughout Thursday, waiting for companies and the public administration to be clear about the legality of Poots’ order.
The consequence of Givan’s resignation is that the regional Executive will stop working in seven days, if the London Parliament does not first approve a bill that extends the term to six months and is in its last phase of processing. The interim period may cause, for example, the obligation to wear masks not to be eliminated or the regional budget not to be approved.
The Minister for Northern Ireland in the London Cabinet, Brendan Lewis, has urged the DUP to appoint a new Chief Minister. Lewis complains that the EU negotiators had been warned about the possibility of what could happen, “in terms of the stability of the Executive, of the decisions of the Executive, so that the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland be as it has always been.” DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has also called for border controls to be removed.
The community negotiator, Maros Sefcovic, who had a virtual conversation with the British minister, Liz Truss, afflicted with Covid, insisted in a statement that the EU is willing to introduce practical reforms on the operation of the Protocol, requested that controls be maintained and pointed to the British Government as responsible for compliance with the treaty.