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EU says PM Boris Johnson’s exit won’t change its stance on Northern Ireland impasse

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Under the Northern Ireland protocol, Brussels and London sought to prevent the return of a hard border.

PHOTO: REUTERS

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) – The European Commission declined on Thursday (July 7) to comment on Boris Johnson’s expected resignation as British prime minister and said its stand in a post-Brexit impasse over Northern Ireland would not be affected by political developments in London.

“On the events in the UK … we have no comment on democratic processes in third countries,” a spokesperson for the European Union’s executive told a news briefing.

A second spokesperson said there would be no shift in the EU’s approach to the Northern Ireland protocol that was part of Britain’s divorce agreement with the EU.

“From our point of view, the political developments do not change our position on the protocol or the way in which we work with our British counterparts on Northern Ireland,” he said.

“Our position is that we should endeavour to seek solutions as regards to the implementation of the protocol.”

Mr Johnson’s government has proposed legislation allowing Britain to scrap some of the rules on post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, which last week cleared a first parliamentary hurdle.

The EU says the bill is a violation of international law.

Under the Northern Ireland protocol, Brussels and London sought to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland by keeping the British province in the 27-nation bloc’s single market for goods.

However, the fix effectively placed a border in the Irish Sea between the British mainland and Northern Ireland, angering some pro-British unionists, and London has accused Brussels of applying the rules on goods trade in a heavy-handed way.

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