UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will meet in Windsor, Berkshire, to discuss the Northern Ireland Protocol. The two leaders will discuss "complex challenges" surrounding the protocol and may produce a breakthrough after months of negotiations with the EU. The purpose of the talks is to ease trade friction in Northern Ireland.
Sunak and von der Leyen to Discuss Northern Ireland Protocol
Mr. Sunak plans to brief his cabinet on the outcome of the talks and potentially announce any agreement to the public. He stated that a successful deal would show that Brexit "truly works" and will resolve the issues surrounding the protocol. The deal aims to benefit businesses and communities by getting goods moving and giving Northern Ireland control of its destiny.
Sunak Aims to Show Brexit "Truly Works" with Northern Ireland Protocol Deal
However, the prime minister faces risks with the potential agreement as it must meet the red lines set by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and avoid a collision course with hardline Brexiteers. Parliament may or may not have a vote on the agreement, with Cabinet ministers briefing MPs that they could expect to have a say on "part of the deal."
Sunak Facing Risks in Northern Ireland Protocol Deal Negotiations
The protocol, signed by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2020, aimed to prevent a hard border with Ireland after Brexit by having Northern Ireland follow EU rules on goods. However, the trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain created by the treaty caused tension among Unionists, leading to the collapse of powersharing in Stormont. The DUP leader has set seven tests that the new pact must meet to gain their backing, including addressing the "democratic deficit" of Northern Ireland is subject to EU rules without having a say on them.
The Northern Ireland Protocol and Its Impact on Trade and Powersharing
Mr. Sunak will enter the talks to "returning sovereignty to the people of Northern Ireland" and ensure that the deal fixes practical problems, safeguards Northern Ireland's place in the UK, and ensures trade flows freely within the whole of the UK. He will hold a virtual cabinet session to brief them on the outcome of the talks and plans to travel to Westminster to state the House of Commons.
Sunak's Goals for Northern Ireland Protocol Deal Negotiations
If an agreement is reached, Mr. Sunak and Ms. von der Leyen will hold a joint press conference. The plans for Ms. von der Leyen to meet King Charles were reportedly canceled, but it is still being determined whether Downing Street will revisit the idea if an agreement is announced. There needs to be more detail from Downing Street on the potential agreement. Still, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab hinted at what may be in the deal, including check-free lanes for goods and giving Belfast a role in approving new EU laws that would apply to Northern Ireland.