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Sam McBride

A constitutional crisis without precedent may be just weeks away

Sam McBride


The DUP is preparing to order NI civil servants to stop Irish Sea border checks  but officials might just refuse to comply

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Shipping news: Lorries roll off the ferry at the docks. Credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Shipping news: Lorries roll off the ferry at the docks. Credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

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Jamie Bryson (pictured) has begun legal proceedings against Edwin Poots. Credit: Brian Lawless

Jamie Bryson (pictured) has begun legal proceedings against Edwin Poots. Credit: Brian Lawless

Edwin Poots. Credit: Jonathan Porter / Press Eye

Edwin Poots. Credit: Jonathan Porter / Press Eye

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Shipping news: Lorries roll off the ferry at the docks. Credit: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Northern Ireland may be weeks away from stumbling into a constitutional crisis of a sort never seen before. Rather than arguments about partition or tribalism, the issue here would be constitutional propriety, and at its heart would be nervous civil servants, a bungling minister and a matter of immense importance — the Northern Ireland Protocol.

What is unfolding appears to have been engineered by the DUP, a political party so desperate to change the public perception of how it has handled Brexit that its former leader is now willing to publicly humiliate himself to shift focus from its impotence until now. With that party facing voters in May, it is likely to ensure that this escalates quickly, even though there are risks that what it is doing could rebound on it.


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