British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will on Wednesday meet leaders in Northern Ireland, the key battleground in Britain’s fight to leave the European Union and the focus of increasingly tense rhetoric on both sides of the Irish Sea. He arrived in Belfast on Tuesday night amid warnings from Irish leaders that his vow to leave the EU, with or without a deal, risks breaking up the United Kingdom. Johnson will hold talks with Northern Ireland’s main political parties to discuss the restoration of the British province’s power-sharing government, which collapsed in January 2017. But Brexit will be the issue hanging over the visit. Ireland has a land border with the province that both sides want to keep free-flowing after Brexit, both for economic reasons and, more importantly, to maintain the delicate peace deal that brought an end to decades of violence between Irish nationalists and British loyalists. The removal of checks on the border with Ireland was considered a key factor in reducing tensions. But after Brexit, that border will become part of the EU’s external frontier and would legally require policing. The agreement struck by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May proposed the so-called “backstop” solution, a mechanism designed to preserve the EU’s single market and prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland. But many eurosceptic MPs believe it gives the EU too much control over Britain and rejected the deal three times. Johnson told Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, on Tuesday that the “backstop” plan was unacceptable, putting
Brexit deal marks a clear victory for Ireland -- one no-one in Britain saw coming and one which has raised the Irish government's standing at home and abroad. "The Irish government's key preferences were all reflected in the divorce settlement," said Etain Tannam, a senior lecturer at Trinity College Dublin.