After the agreement with the EU on new Brexit rules for Northern Ireland, Great Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sought local support.
The deal, reached on Monday, aims to end a years-long dispute between the EU and the UK and ease trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. But much depends on whether the agreement will appeal to the Protestant DUP party in Northern Ireland. Supporters of Northern Ireland's union with Great Britain have been blocking the formation of a government in the province for months in protest at the previous regulations.
Opportunity for "Most Exciting Economic Zone in the World"
If the agreement, dubbed the "Windsor Framework", is implemented, Northern Ireland has the potential to become the "most exciting economic zone in the world" with unhindered access to both the UK and European economic areas, Sunak said while visiting a Coke factory in Northern Ireland County Antrim. His spokesman later felt compelled to clarify that this was not criticism of Brexit. Before leaving the EU, not only Northern Ireland, but the whole of the UK had free access to both markets.
Speaking on the BBC, DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson praised the negotiated mechanism that would give Northern Ireland a veto over the role of EU law in its own market. However, his party will now examine the contract in detail. A spokesman for Sunak said the DUP was not given a deadline for a decision.
Praise for Sunak: "great result"
It is also important for Sunak that the Brexit hardliners in his own party do not block the agreement. Ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson initially did not comment. The London Times reported, citing circles close to Johnson, that he first wanted to study the government's proposals and think about them. Sunak had announced in the lower house that there should be a vote on the agreement - there is no date for this yet.
Sunak received praise from an important critic from his own ranks. Northern Ireland Secretary of State Steve Baker spoke of a "great result". The former chairman of the so-called European Research Group, a coalition of Brexit fanatics in the Tory party, was even relieved about the agreement.