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Protocol dissatisfaction results in new election for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland is due to announce another assembly election after politicians missed the Westminster set deadline for restoring devolved government. It is now for the Northern Ireland secretary to call an election within the next 12 weeks however, it is being reported that he will announce the election date later today (28th October 2022).

A new election has become necessary due to the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) refusing to sit in the power-sharing assembly as a protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol.

We are yet to see the new Prime Minister’s (Rishi Sunak) approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol and how re-negotiations with the EU will materialise.

Alongside any re-negotiations, the UK Parliament continues its scrutiny of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill. On Tuesday 25th October the House of Lords started their detailed scrutiny and examination of the Bill.

The Bill has been seen as controversial as it will provide the basis to amend the Northern Ireland Protocol in UK domestic law. Effectively giving UK Government unilateral powers to amend the operation of the Protocol. Its supporters argue that (without a re-negotiated Protocol) the Bill is a necessity to support North-South trade and cooperation, in the interests of both the EU and the UK.

Currently, there are four dates set aside for the Committee Stage which will provide a line-by-line examination of the Bill.

There is hope that while the Bill continues with Parliamentary scrutiny, a re-negotiated agreement will be agreed upon by the UK and the EU. It seems that this is still the preferred outcome for both the UK and the EU and, hopefully, will be satisfactory for all sides to allow the Northern Ireland Assembly to sit again.

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