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UK Parliament approves new Brexit deal for N. Ireland

Xinhua | Updated: 2023-03-23 02:58

FILE PHOTO: A sign is pictured as British flags flutter at Parliament Square in London, Britain. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON - The United Kingdom's (UK) Parliament passed a key part of the government's new post-Brexit trade deal on Northern Ireland on Wednesday despite opposition from the region's major unionist party.

The vote was on the so-called "Stormont Brake," which offers Northern Ireland more power over new European Union (EU) laws. Members of the House of Commons (lower house of Parliament) voted by a margin of 515 to 29. Those voting 'no' included six Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) members.

More than 20 members of the ruling Conservative Party, including former UK prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, also opposed the deal.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris welcomed the result of the vote on Wednesday.

"By voting in favor of the Stormont Brake, we have voted to ensure that the people of Northern Ireland, through a restored Executive, will have full democratic input to the laws that apply to them," he wrote on social media.

DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, however, noted on Wednesday that "fundamental problems" remain, notwithstanding the progress made.

As a central element of the new trade deal between the UK and the EU, the "Stormont Brake" means that the Northern Ireland Assembly can oppose new EU goods rules that would have significant and lasting effects on everyday lives in Northern Ireland.

In opposition to post-Brexit trade rules, the DUP has refused to join the power-sharing government in the region for more than a year, raising concerns over political stability.

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