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While many voters in Britain greeted Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal last year with relief, it inspired anger among unionists in Northern Ireland.
The Withdrawal Agreement requires the province to apply EU customs rules after Brexit and keeps it aligned with the single market’s regulations on goods and agriculture. Unionists say these arrangements create an effective border in the Irish Sea and consign their part of the UK to membership of an “economic united Ireland”.
Their worries intensified during the election campaign when Johnson’s claims that “unfettered trade” between Northern Ireland and Great Britain could continue without checks, paperwork or the payment of tariffs were challenged robustly. But while there is still deep foreboding about the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, the Conservatives’ decisive victory means most Unionists are resigned to the fact that it will pass swiftly through the House of Commons.