Politics class: Northern Ireland Brexit deal offers reset of UK-EU relations

Politics class: Northern Ireland Brexit deal offers reset of UK-EU relations

This article picked by a teacher with suggested questions is part of the Financial Times free schools access programme. Details/registration here.


  • Edexcel: Component 4.3: The aims, role and impact of the European Union (EU) on UK government

  • AQA: Component The European Union: the impact of the EU on UK politics and policymaking.

Background: what you need to know

The article explains the arrangements negotiated by Rishi Sunak with the EU this week to reform the contentious ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’. Controversially, the protocol introduced checks on goods passing between Britain and Northern Ireland, alienating the Democratic Unionist Party and leading to the collapse of the devolved administration last year. It also gave the European Court of Justice a role in the province which was unacceptable to Conservative supporters of Brexit.

Make sure that you understand the key features of the new agreement. Follow the evolving reaction of Conservative MPs (so far mostly positive) and of the DUP (at time of writing, not finally decided). The issue is important for studying the role of the Prime Minister in UK politics; if Sunak can win acceptance for his deal, it will strengthen what has so far been an uncertain start to his premiership.

Click to read the article below, following the various links to extend your knowledge and understanding, and then answer the questions:

Northern Ireland Brexit deal offers reset of UK-EU relations

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 1

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 2

  • Evaluate the view that withdrawal from the EU has caused more problems than opportunities for UK governments.

    In your answer you should draw on relevant knowledge and understanding of the study of Component 1: UK politics and core political ideas.

    You must consider this view and the alternative to this view in a balanced way. [30 marks] 

    TIP: A relevant Component 1 topic could be Component 2: Political parties. Support for Brexit has been a defining feature of the modern Conservative party. The role of the DUP illustrates how a minor party can play an influential role in UK politics.

Graham Goodlad, Portsmouth High School

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