Brexit, the Belfast Agreement and Northern Ireland: Imperilling a Fragile Political Bargain

Paul Teague

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Abstract

The major impact of the Belfast Agreement was to engineer a peaceful coexistence between nationalism and unionism that involved each bloc recognising it had sufficient power to thwart the political ambitions of the other side, but not enough to push through its own agenda. This paper argues that Brexit seriously damages this peaceful coexistence and could trigger what is termed an Ulster war of attrition in which Northern Ireland becomes entrapped in a political stalemate where each side strives to triumph without having sufficient power to do so. It also argues that to restore internal political stability in Northern Ireland, and to indemnify against the risk of disorderly relationships between the British and Irish governments in the future, the strategic importance of Strand 3 of the Belfast Agreement requires strengthening.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)690-704
Number of pages15
JournalThe Political Quarterly
Volume90
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 09 Oct 2019

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