Brexit and Northern Ireland – Recent political events in Northern Ireland

Various recent political events in Northern Ireland have complicated Brexit matters.

Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU in the 2016 referendum.

In addition, the late Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of Sinn Féin, resigned, and Sinn Féin did not nominate a candidate to take his place.

At the Northern Ireland Assembly elections in March 2017, the two main parties, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin, could not agree on a new Executive before the statutory deadline and to date have not. There has, therefore, been no Northern Ireland Executive, nor a functioning Assembly, since January 2017.

This places the UK Government in a democratically precarious position with regards to the provision of a voice from Northern Ireland to be heard in the Brexit debate.

In addition, following the failure of the Conservative Party to achieve an outright majority in the May General Election, they formed a ‘confidence and supply agreement’ with the DUP.[1] 

The DUP now has a preferential political status at Westminster in return for the support it has agreed to provide to the Conservative Government. The DUP’s position on the border question is that it wishes to retain the Common Travel Area (CTA), have no internal borders between the UK and Northern Ireland and have a frictionless border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Click here to read the full Brexit and Northern Ireland briefing series.

For more information or advice about immigration, please contact:

Angharad Birch
Trainee Solicitor
T. 020 7227 7270
E. angharad.birch@rlb-law.com

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/conservative-and-dup-agreement-and-uk-government-financial-support-for-northern-ireland/agreement-between-the-conservative-and-unionist-party-and-the-democratic-unionist-party-on-support-for-the-government-in-parliament, 26 June 2017

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