Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol

27/02/2023. Windsor, United Kingdom. The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomes the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen to Windsor to discuss the Northern Ireland talks. Picture by Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street

In 2020-2021, Brexit filled news media and appeared as often in conversations about global politics as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict does now. The departure of the United Kingdom (made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) from the European Union was startling, and news sources rushed to cover various political and economic issues that arose consequently. The UK’s attempt to remedy them, known as the Northern Ireland Protocol, only raised tensions between Northern Ireland and the rest of the union. But it’s been a few years, and the matter has cooled significantly, although not extinguished. But what are the developments in the aftermath of Brexit, and why are they so significant to the tension between the countries in the United Kingdom?

One of the most significant developments resulting from Brexit was the uncertainty in the British (made up of England, Scotland, and Wales) economy. Brexit ultimately reduced British cooperation and trade with the EU, causing a detriment to money economies such as the UK and creating the potential for a trade war between the UK and the EU. Moreover, Brexit affected Northern Ireland’s trade with the Republic of Ireland, with whom it cooperates closely. The Northern Ireland Protocol was implemented in 2021, about five years after Brexit, to avoid a hard border between the EU member state of Ireland and Northern Ireland, allowing Northern Ireland access to the European market while still being part of the United Kingdom. This protocol ensured goods flowed freely between Ireland and Northern Ireland but implemented customs on goods flowing between the island and Great Britain.

However, the Northern Ireland Protocol has issues as well. Many Northern Irish protest it because it divides the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland. These people are called unionists, whose goal is uniformity and proper incorporation of Ireland into the UK. Moreover, the Northern Ireland Protocol has been questioned by other citizens of the UK since it still allows some dominance of the EU in the UK through Northern Ireland’s relationship with Ireland, contrasting with the aim of Brexit to avoid the supremacy of EU courts and government in the UK. The Northern Ireland Protocol also enforces customs in the Irish Sea, restricting Northern Ireland’s access to Britain for trade. 

Yes, Brexit caused a few economic issues and raised concerns in Ireland and Britain. However, after a few attempts at solving the political and economic issues raised by Brexit, the Windsor Framework serves as a working solution to the problem that the Northern Ireland Protocol could not solve. Thus, the UK’s dramatic departure from such a well-known supernational organization draws to a close in the global news stage.

Works Cited

Castle, S., Specia, M. and Robins, P. (2021) What’s at stake in Northern Ireland Trade deal, The New York Times. Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2024).

Fleming, A. (2021) Analysis: What is Brexit doing to Northern Ireland?, BBC News. Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2024).

The protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland explained – consilium (2024) European Council. Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2024).Ziady, H. (2023) Analysis: Brexit slammed the UK economy. the new Northern Ireland deal gives it hope | CNN business, CNN. Available at: (Accessed: 27 May 2024).