According to Britain’s deputy prime minister, Dominic Raab, an agreement on post-Brexit trade policies for Northern Ireland is imminent.
To finalize a fresh agreement to address trade and political upheaval in Northern Ireland brought on by Brexit, the leaders of Britain and the European Union will meet in London on Monday.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen “agreed to continue their work in person toward shared, practical solutions for the range of complex challenges around the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland,” the two leaders said in a statement released together on Sunday.
Hence, tomorrow in the UK, President von der Leyen will meet with the prime minister.
Following more than a year of sporadic and occasionally heated negotiations between London and Brussels on a revision of the 2020 EU withdrawal plan, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said that Britain and the EU were close to reaching a deal.
Raab said to the BBC on Sunday that while we have made fantastic progress, we are still not there.
Although a deal would put an end to the two-year deadlock between the UK and the EU, Sunak might have to fight off pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers and pro-British Northern Irish politicians to get the accord through.
Sunak’s own Conservatives are still riven by the Brexit differences that have at times paralyzed British politics since the country’s 2016 vote to leave the EU. Important figures in Northern Ireland, which is a part of the UK, have set a high bar for the kind of agreement they would support.
In order to avoid implementing politically charged inspections along the 500 km land border with EU member the Republic of Ireland, the UK agreed the Northern Ireland Protocol with Brussels as part of its withdrawal agreement.
Yet, because it retained Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods, the agreement essentially created a border for some commodities going from the United Kingdom.
Sunak wants to succeed where his predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss failed in negotiations, but the push runs the risk of obstructing his domestic priorities as he attempts to reverse a significant opinion poll deficit for the ruling Conservative Party ahead of a national election anticipated next year.
Raab claimed that by reducing the physical inspections of goods that the EU had originally wanted, the arrangement will ease trade tensions.
He added that the agreement aimed to allay worries about the EU having the power to impose regulations on Northern Ireland that cannot be changed by the region’s citizens or politicians. “It must be appropriate that there is a Northern Irish democratic check on it,” he said, referring to the possibility of new laws being applied to Northern Ireland.
But he refrained from announcing that Northern Ireland would no longer be decided by European courts. It has been a main demand of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a party that supports the British government and is now refusing to agree to a new power-sharing arrangement in Northern Ireland.
For every accord, the DUP has established seven criteria. According to the Sunday Times, Sunak was certain that the agreement satisfied these requirements, but DUP party leader Jeffrey Donaldson was “inclined to reject the agreement.”
One of the key objectives of Sunak’s renegotiation would have failed without DUP support, as Northern Ireland may continue to lack a devolved government.
As a result of the DUP’s ultimate decision, a eurosceptic faction within the Conservative Party is likely to follow suit, increasing the likelihood that Sunak’s party will split and his plans for immigration, health, and economic reform would be wrecked.
When asked if MPs would get a chance to voice their opinions on the agreement, Raab responded yes, but he did not specifically guarantee a vote.
The leader of the euroskeptic European Research Group, legislator Mark Francois, issued a stern warning in response.
“With all the history of this, it would be extraordinarily unwise for the government to attempt and ram this through the House of Commons without a vote of any kind,” he said to Sky News.