Breaking peace

Brexit and Northern Ireland

This book argues that Brexit is the most significant event in the political history of Northern Ireland since partition in 1921. It explains why Brexit presents unique challenges for Northern Ireland and why the future of the Irish border is so significant for the peace process.

The book assesses the impact of the Brexit referendum in June 2016 and subsequent negotiations between the UK government and the EU on the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and on political stability in Northern Ireland. It explores the way in which Brexit brought contested political identities back into the foreground of political debate in Northern Ireland and how the future of the Irish border became an emblem for conflicting British and Irish visions of the future.

The book argues that Brexit is breaking peace in Northern Ireland by underlining and reviving the binary identities of Britishness and Irishness that had been more malleable under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. It demonstrates how the Brexit negotiations have undermined the key pillars of the Good Friday Agreement and wider peace process in Northern Ireland; the ‘consent’ principle; the right to self-define national identity as British, Irish or both; and through the steady decline in Anglo-Irish relations since 2016.

In 2021 Northern Ireland will commemorate its centenary, but Brexit, more than any other event in that 100-year history, has jeopardised its very existence.

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