Chris Mason: Challenges Ahead for Restoring Power Sharing at Stormont

Downing Street is pleased with the reception of the new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland. In the House of Commons on Monday, most MPs expressed their approval, including former Prime Minister Theresa May, former Brexit Secretary David Davis, Labour, and the Scottish National Party. Of particular significance was the statement from the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who said that the deal represented “significant progress”. French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the decision, and US President Joe Biden described it as “an essential step”. The White House also stated that the US is ready to support Northern Ireland’s economic potential.

The positive response from abroad could help Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, to promote the benefits of the plan. However, there is still some resistance from the DUP and it remains to be seen if they will be tempted to return to power sharing at Stormont and devolved government.

The Windsor Framework acknowledges that Northern Ireland will have a different relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK. As long as Westminster refuses closer economic ties with Brussels, this will remain the case. This makes it difficult to achieve the ultimate goal of restored devolved government.

The new Brexit deal is an important step forward, but it is clear that there are still challenges ahead. The UK and EU must continue to work together to ensure that Northern Ireland’s interests are protected and that devolved government is restored.