Was it always a straightforward presumption ("davar pashut") that in general the Ashkanazim should decide Halachic questions ("pasken") in accordance with the Rema over the Machaber/Beis Yosef (when they disagree)? Or did one of the Achronim come along and say that in general the Ashkanazim would/should pasken in accordance with the Rema over the Machaber, but before that particular Achron it was not necessarily for an Ashkanazi posek to rule thus?
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Actually, it's the other way around:
The Bet Yosef wrote the Shulchan Aruch (as a summary of the Tur).
The Rema noticed that it was comprehensive, but went against some Ashkenazi accepted Psak. So he decided to add those in-line.
Result: Ashkenaz Psak is like the Rema and Sefardi Psak is like the Bet Yosef.
It's not a presumption, it was purposely written that way.