Johnson on the ‘best way forward’ for Brexit and Northern Ireland
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Rishi Sunak and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen have struck a deal over the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Prime Minister and the European Commission President finalised the agreement over post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland during a summit at Windsor today.
A senior Government source said: “An agreement has been reached. The deal is done.”
An EU source in Brussels also confirmed a deal has been agreed.
The Prime Minister will brief his senior ministers in a virtual meeting of the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Mrs von der Leyen will go on to have tea with the King at Windsor Castle despite criticisms that the meeting would drag Charles into the politically contentious deal.
Mr Sunak and Mrs von der Leyen will then hold a joint press conference before the PM makes a statement to MPs in the Commons.
The Prime Minister needs to win the support of Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Conservative Eurosceptics.
Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg earlier put Mr Sunak on notice of a possible Tory revolt if the DUP does not support the deal.
The former Cabinet minister told GB News: “It will all depend on the DUP.
“If the DUP are against it, I think there will be quite a significant number of Conservatives who are unhappy.”
He said that the position of Boris Johnson, who he described as the “biggest figure in UK politics”, will be “fundamental”.
Mr Rees-Mogg added to Good Morning Britain: “So, if the DUP doesn’t think that it meets its test, that will be very influential among Conservative MPs.
“I’m afraid with all the EU deals the devil is in the detail, so when people say ‘we need to see the legal text’, they are not larking about, they really want to see it to understand what the effect is.”
But arch-Brexiteer Steve Baker, the Northern Ireland Office minister who had been on resignation watch, gave Mr Sunak his support.
Leaving No 10 earlier, he said: “I can only say this: that the Prime Minister is on the cusp of securing a really fantastic result for everyone involved.”
Tory Brexiteers in the powerful European Research Group (ERG) will convene Sir Bill Cash’s so-called “star chamber” of lawyers to scrutinise the deal before deciding whether to back it.
The DUP collapsed powersharing at Stormont last year in protest at the protocol’s impact, leaving Northern Ireland without an executive or an assembly.
Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has issued seven tests that Mr Sunak’s new pact will have to meet to win DUP backing.
The protocol, agreed by Mr Johnson in 2020, was designed to prevent a hard Irish border after Brexit.
Northern Ireland has continued to follow EU rules on goods to prevent checks being needed when crossing into the Republic.
But the trade barriers created between Northern Ireland and Great Britain have angered unionists.
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