Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister, resigns

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Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin speaks to the media in Brussels in May. (Valeria Mongelli/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin has extended his well wishes to outgoing British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and urged a “pulling back” by the UK from unilateral action on Brexit’s Northern Ireland Protocol.  

In a statement, Martin commended Johnson’s “leadership highlights,” including his response to the war in Ukraine as well as leading the United Kingdom through the pandemic. 

“From a personal perspective, I am conscious that he has been through a difficult few weeks and I extend my best wishes to him and his family for the future, following the announcement of his resignation,” the taoiseach said. 

Martin also acknowledged the “strained and challenged” relationship between his government and Johnson’s over Brexit and highlighted the importance of a close partnership in maintaining “peace and prosperity on these islands.”

He called for Britain’s new leader to “return to the true spirit of partnership and mutual respect that is needed to underpin the gains of the Good Friday Agreement.” 

Some background: The protocol is the part of the Brexit deal that sets out special trading arrangements for Northern Ireland in order to prevent a harder border between the country, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU. Johnson’s government however had laid out plans to make changes to the bill which were opposed by the EU.

Ireland “stands ready to work with a new UK PM on protecting our shared achievements in the peace process & our shared responsibility under international law on #Brexit,” Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney said on Twitter, adding his well wishes for Johnson and his family.

Lawmakers on both sides of the political divide in Northern Ireland have called on Johnson to immediately step down as prime minister, not wait until his successor as Conservative leader is in place.