Rishi Sunak Set To Finalise New Brexit Deal Today In Talks With Ursula Von Der Leyen

The prime minister still faces a major battle in selling the agreement to Tory MPs and the Democratic Unionist Party.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
Pool via Getty Images

Rishi Sunak will hold face-to-face talks with the European Commission president today amid hopes that a fresh Brexit deal is imminent.

The prime minister and Ursula von der Leyen will meet in Windsor to finalise months of detailed negotiations between the UK and Brussels.

The two leaders will sit down together late lunchtime for what have been described by Number 10 as “final talks” to clinch a deal designed to end trade frictions caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Sunak is then expected to chair a meeting of his cabinet, where he, foreign secretary James Cleverly and Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris will set out the terms of the deal.

After a press conference with von der Leyen, Sunak will then head to the House of Commons to give a statement to MPs.

It comes after speculation mounted in recent days that a deal could be announced imminently, with deputy prime minister Dominic Raab saying yesterday that the UK Britain and EU were on the “cusp” of an agreement.

What Is The Northern Ireland Protocol?

It is a trading arrangement, negotiated during Brexit talks, to allow goods to be transported across the Irish land border without the need for checks.

The deal was aimed at protecting the delicate Good Friday Agreement and to avoid putting up a hard border between NI and the Republic.

However, unionist parties argue that the protocol instead places an effective border across the Irish Sea, undermining Northern Ireland’s place within the UK.

NI’s largest unionist party, the DUP, is refusing to take part in the power-sharing government unless its concerns are resolved.

However, Sunak faces a major challenge in trying to win support for the deal from the ERG group Brexiteer Tory MPs and the Democratic Unionist Party.

ERG chairman Mark Francois yesterday warned that the agreement must mean an end to EU laws being imposed on Northern Ireland.

“If the DUP don’t consent to the deal, then it’s simply not going to fly,” Francois told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday.

Von der Leyen had been due to travel to Britain on Saturday to hold talks with Sunak, as well as meet the King at Windsor Castle, but the plans were scrapped.

The latest announcement opens the door for a potential unveiling of fresh protocol terms during the German politician’s visit on Monday.

Speaking to The Sunday Times on Saturday, Sunak said he planned to work all weekend to nail down revised terms as he looks to keep hardline Conservative Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party on side.

He told the newspaper he was “giving it everything we’ve got” to finalise a fix for the protocol, a Brexit treaty negotiated by former prime minister Boris Johnson.

The protocol, signed by Boris Johnson in 2020, was designed to prevent a hard border with Ireland after Brexit, with Northern Ireland continuing to follow EU rules on goods to prevent checks being needed when crossing into the Republic.

But the customs border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain created by the treaty has created unionist tension, with Sunak admitting that it had “unbalanced” the Good Friday Agreement which brought an end to the Troubles 25 years ago.


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