UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak traveled to Belfast on Tuesday last week to sell his landmark agreement with the European Union to its toughest audience: Unionist politicians who fear post-Brexit trade rules are weakening Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom.
The UK and the 27-nation EU announced Monday that they had struck a deal to resolve a dispute over Northern Ireland trade that has vexed relations since the UK left the bloc in 2020. The agreement will ease customs checks and other hurdles for goods moving to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK that were imposed after Brexit to maintain an open border between the north and its EU neighbor, the Republic of Ireland.
The deal, dubbed the “Windsor Framework,” was hailed by London and Brussels as a breakthrough. But Northern Ireland’s British unionist politicians have yet to give it their blessing. Their support is key to restoring Northern Ireland’s semi-autonomous government, which has been toppled by the trade feud, leaving 1.9 million people without a functioning administration.
Photo: AFP 照片：法新社
Sunak told the BBC the deal was “a huge step forward for the people of Northern Ireland” and he was confident politicians there would support it.
The Democratic Unionist Party, which had governed alongside Irish nationalists Sinn Fein in the power-sharing administration, walked out of the government a year ago to protest the trade rules and has refused to return until they are scrapped or substantially rewritten. Under Northern Ireland’s political system, power is shared between Irish nationalists and British unionists, and neither side can govern without the other.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson said Tuesday last week that the party would “take our time” to pore over the details of the deal before delivering its verdict.
Photo: AP 照片：美聯社
Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that shares a border with an EU member. When the UK left the bloc, the two sides agreed to keep the Irish border free of customs posts and other checks because an open border is a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace process.
Instead, there are checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. That angered British unionist politicians in Belfast, who say the new trade border in the Irish Sea undermined Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.
Sunak said the new Windsor Framework “removes any sense of an Irish Sea border,” removing checks on the vast majority of goods. It also gives Northern Ireland politicians a mechanism to challenge new EU trade rules that could apply in the region — a key unionist demand.
Photo: AP 照片：美聯社
Business groups largely welcomed the deal, saying it would ease the burdens faced by companies and give Northern Ireland customers access to goods such as English sausages that were blocked under the original post-Brexit rules.
Some hard-line pro-Brexit politicians in Sunak’s governing Conservatives also were surprisingly positive about the deal. One key figure has yet to weigh in — former UK prime minister Boris Johnson, who negotiated the original Brexit divorce deal that Sunak has now rewritten.
The agreement was also welcomed by the White House, which said it was “grateful” the two sides could resolve the dispute.
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Global population hits 8 billion 全球人口突破八十億！ Humanity reached a milestone in November last year, when the global population exceeded eight billion people. Reaching this number means people are living longer, with generally better access to healthcare, food and sanitation than previous generations. Along with passing this milestone, many demographic changes are expected to occur in the coming years. A United Nations report shows that the world’s population will increase to around 9.7 billion people by the year 2050. It is predicted to peak three decades later at approximately 10.4 billion people and stay around this number until the end of the century. What’s interesting to note is
對話 Dialogue A: 走，我帶你去吃牛排，七分熟的最好吃了！ A: Zǒu, wǒ dài nǐ qù chī niúpái, qīfēnshóude zuì hàochīle! B: 對不起，我不能吃牛肉。 B: Duìbùqǐ, wǒ bùnéng chī niúròu. A: 沒關係，那家餐廳也有雞、魚、豬跟海鮮，都很不錯。 A: Méiguānxi, nà jiā cāntīng yěyǒu jī, yú, zhū gēn hǎixiān, dōu hěn búcuò. B: 不好意思，我最近腸胃不好，吃得太油就拉肚子。 B: Bùhǎoyìsi, wǒ zuìjìn chángwèi bù hǎo, chī de tài yóu jiù lādùzi. A: 這樣啊！我看你只能吃素了。沙拉吧吃到飽可以吧？ A: Zhèyàng a! Wǒ kàn nǐ zhǐ néng chīsùle. Shālā bà chīdàobǎo kěyǐ ba? B: 可以，我最喜歡吃生菜和水煮蛋了！謝謝你啦。 B: Kěyǐ, wǒ zuì xǐhuān chī shēngcài hàn shuǐzhǔdànle! Xièxie nǐ la. 翻譯 Translation A: Come on, I’ll take you to eat steak, medium-well is the best! B: But, I don’t eat beef. A: That’s fine. That restaurant also has chicken, fish, pork and