The agreement was approved by voters across the island of Ireland in two referendums on 22 May 1998. In Northern Ireland, in the 1998 referendum on the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, voters were asked if they supported the multi-party agreement. In the Republic of Ireland, voters were asked whether they would allow the state to sign the agreement and authorize the necessary constitutional changes (nineteen constitutional amendments from Ireland) to facilitate it. The citizens of both countries had to approve the agreement to implement it. During the three debates, the peace process was not central to most Members. While the backstop received 795 mentions in the three debates we analysed, the “Good Friday Agreements” and the “Belfast Agreements” – two terms that describe the same agreement – together received only 90. This indicates that the discussion on the “backstop” was not generally related to the agreement. A new analysis that we have just finalised shows that Parliament`s objection to the backstop amounts to an implicit rejection of the Good Friday Agreement, the agreement that ended the armed conflict in Northern Ireland. The reasons why Parliament opposes the “backstop” are precisely what made the peace agreement work. During negotiations on the UK`s planned withdrawal from the European Union in 2019, the EU presented a position paper on its concerns about Britain`s support for the Good Friday agreement during Brexit.
The position paper deals with issues such as the prevention of a hard border, north-south cooperation between the Republic of Northern Ireland, the birthright of all Northern Ireland residents (as stated in the agreement) and the common travel area.   Anyone who was born in Northern Ireland and is therefore entitled to an Irish passport under the Good Friday Agreement may retain European citizenship after Brexit.  As part of the EU`s Brexit negotiating guidelines, the UK was asked to convince other EU members that these issues had been addressed in order to enter the second phase of the Brexit negotiations. In order to protect North-South cooperation and avoid controls at the Irish border, the United Kingdom, under the leadership of Prime Minister Theresa May, said it was ready to protect the agreement in all its parties and “in the absence of agreed solutions, the Uk would maintain full alignment with the rules of the internal market and customs union, which are now or in the future. , North-South cooperation supporting the island`s economy and protecting the 1998 agreement” by acknowledging that “it is the restriction that nothing is agreed until everything has been agreed”.     This provision was part of an agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU, which was rejected three times by the British Parliament.  May`s successor, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, initially cited the “Irish backstop” that was to be withdrawn from the proposed agreement, but finally accepted it after the negotiation of a new agreement between the UK and the EU on 17 October 2019.   In September 2020, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has informed the House of Commons that the UK government intends to violate international law in a “specific and limited” manner by introducing a new bill that gives the UK government new national powers to circumvent certain international contractual obligations to the EU, as provided for in the Northern Irish Protocol of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.  The bill introduced the following day sparked widespread outrage in the United Kingdom and internationally, with the Prime Ministers of Scotland and Wales calling the Conservative government`s proposals to try to take power and cancel decentralisation.   Most parties in Northern Ireland expressed concern about the law, although some members of the Democratic Unionist Party, who had always opposed the Good Friday agreement, welcomed the law.  Prime Minister Michel Martin said confidence in the British government`s plan was “eroded”  1.