In this blog post for the LSE Brexit Blog, Dr. Sylvia de Mars examines the rise and (future) fall of Northern Ireland’s importance in Brexit negotiations.
To the surprise of many, Northern Ireland, through the DUP, has been the silent majority shareholder in the Brexit negotiations to date. Their influence is remarkable because, in practice, they have no direct role in the negotiations.
The Article 50 TEU process is conducted by the UK and the EU, which does not require any ratification by ‘regional’ levels of government the way that EU mixed agreements might. Insofar as the negotiators are guided by any other interests when considering their future trade relationship, the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) come to mind long before the desires of the DUP do. All the same, though, Northern Ireland’s positions have shaped the running of Phase 1 – starting with the December 2017 Joint Report, and culminating in the Withdrawal Agreement – more than any other level of government has. But will this level of influence last?