Brexit and Northern Ireland
Hardening positions during the referendum
in Breaking peace
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Chapter 1 introduces the key research questions that underpin the rest of the book and maps the emergence of Northern Ireland as a contested theme within the Brexit referendum debate in the run-up to the vote on 23 June 2016. While the narrative focus of this chapter is the referendum campaign and the emergence of the main party political positions, the chapter also puts some of the main themes in their historical and political context that feature in subsequent chapters. This locates the central arguments within the key academic debates on the Good Friday Agreement, power-sharing and the centrality of the ‘consent principle’ as an axis of consensus for political change in Northern Ireland within the context of the Brexit negotiation process. This chapter also sets out the debate over the future status of the Irish border, and how that issue has impacted on the devolved political institutions and the relations between the main political parties in Northern Ireland.

Breaking peace

Brexit and Northern Ireland


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