British lawmakers will next week debate a central element of the government’s recent deal with the European Union to reform Northern Ireland’s trade rules after Brexit.
The government has said that on March 22 there will be a debate in the House of Commons on the proposal to approve the measures needed to introduce the so-called “Stormont brake”.
The brake allows Britain to stop applying new EU laws to goods in Northern Ireland if a third of lawmakers ask for it in the province’s devolved legislation.
The deal, announced last month, seeks to resolve tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol – a comprehensive deal that set out trade rules for the British-ruled region that London agreed before it left the EU but now says is unworkable.
The leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) this week expressed his biggest concerns yet about the UK-EU deal, saying his party is seeking changes from the British government.
A key test of the deal is its ability to persuade the DUP to end a year-long boycott of the Northern Ireland government over power-sharing over the original post-Brexit trade rules.
The debate is expected to be followed next week by a vote on measures to impose the brake. The opposition Labor Party has said it supports the deal overall, so the measures are likely to pass without a hitch.
But the debate will provide the first tangible test of sentiment among the DUP and also within Sunak’s own Conservative Party.