In the struggle for an agreement in the dispute over Brexit rules for Northern Ireland, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen want to meet in person on Monday. The two are meeting in the UK, the EU Commission and Sunak's Downing Street official announced last night.
The politicians had decided to continue working personally on practical solutions for the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. The meeting is expected to announce a settlement in the long dispute.
prevent border controls
The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit Treaty on Britain's exit from the EU. It stipulates that the customs border between Great Britain and the EU runs in the Irish Sea. This was to prevent border controls between British Northern Ireland and the EU member Republic of Ireland having to be introduced. Otherwise it was expected that the conflict about unifying the two parts of Ireland would flare up again. But the controls are also creating difficulties for intra-British trade, and Union's Protestant supporters in Northern Ireland feel cut off from Britain.
Crucial to the success of an agreement is therefore whether Sunak will manage to get the largest Protestant Unionist party in Northern Ireland, the DUP, behind him. In protest against the protocol, they have been blocking the formation of a government in the British part of the country for months and are demanding drastic changes.
The hard core of Brexit supporters in the British Tory party and his predecessor Boris Johnson also warned Prime Minister Sunak against making too many concessions to the EU. In several guest posts and interviews, Sunak has already prepared his party, his critics and the British people for the agreement. "Brexit is still not fully implemented and I want to bring this to an end," Sunak said in an interview with the Sunday Times.
Sunak assures role as a convinced "Brexiteer"
"We need to make Brexit work for the whole of the UK," he wrote in the conservative Telegraph. According to the newspaper, there is already resistance in his own cabinet and Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker is already considering his resignation. In the tabloid Sun, Sunak assured readers that he would remain a staunch Brexiteer despite his alleged compromise with the EU.
Representatives from London and Brussels had been struggling to find solutions to the problems that had arisen since the Brexit Treaty came into force in 2020. Transitional phases imposed unilaterally by London ensured that the necessary controls were not yet fully implemented. While ex-Prime Minister Johnson and his short-term successor Liz Truss threatened to unilaterally withdraw from the protocol, current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak struck a more constructive note.
The British Parliament should still be able to vote on the deal negotiated with Brussels. The opposition Labor Party has announced its support for the Conservative government.