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Why are the U.K. and E.U. still fighting over Brexit and Northern Ireland?


LONDON — Remember Brexit? It appears that Brexit is never really done. It’s more verb than noun. Leaving the European Union two years ago has proven a bit of a drag for Britain, economically. And Brexit continues to disrupt lives in Northern Ireland, which doesn’t have a functioning government, because unionist politicians are boycotting over how the territory was treated in the Brexit deal.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday traveled to Belfast to meet with leaders of Northern Ireland’s political parties, amid speculation a deal could soon be struck with Europe to ease trade frictions between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and address unionist objections.

Brexit Day: After 1,317 days and three prime ministers, the U.K. has left the E.U.

Mary Lou McDonald, president of the nationalist Sinn Féin party, said after meeting Sunak, “It’s clear now that significant progress has been made and we’re very heartened by that.” More critical, Jeffrey Donaldson, a leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, also saw positive movement to end the fractious standoff.

After his meetings in Belfast, Sunak jetted off to Munich for a major security conference, where he was set to meet on the sidelines with E.U. leaders in a final push for a reworked deal on Northern Ireland.