New UK PM Rishi Sunak Looks To Settle Outstanding Issues Over Northern Island And The EU

Britain’s newly installed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke with US President Joe Biden on the phone Tuesday evening, and among the topics the leaders discussed were the outstanding issues over Northern Ireland and the European Union.

A statement released by Downing Street said that “the Prime Minister and President Biden also agreed on the need to ensure the people of Northern Ireland have security and prosperity through preserving the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.”

The topic of Northern Ireland and the Irish border is among a number of issues that remain unresolved since Britain’s exit from the European Union on January 1, 2021. 

The Good Friday Agreement, which ended sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland, established Belfast’s current system of government and essentially abolished visible signs of the Irish border, is now in jeopardy after the British government introduced legislation earlier this year seeking to change the original Brexit agreement, which European Union officials say would also breach international law.

The bill, which was passed in the lower house, is now being debated in the upper house of Parliament, while former PM Liz Truss restarted talks to resolve the matter with the EU during her short tenure. Taking over after Truss, Sunak is expected to take a more “pragmatic” approach to the Northern Ireland protocol, compared to predecessors Truss and Boris Johnson. 

According to the Irish Times, a common view in the Irish Government is that the new PM — whose primary focus will be the economy: stabilizing the pound and cutting down borrowing costs on the international markets, and addressing public finances — will want to avoid any conflict that would risk a trade war with the EU. 

Sunak himself said in May that he favors a negotiated settlement. “Our preference has always been to have a negotiated settlement,” Sunak told Bloomberg. “What we need to see is a degree of flexibility.”

Information for this briefing was found via Axios, The Irish Times, CNBC, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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