Britain is on the verge of ending its Brexit nightmare for Northern Ireland – with Ursula von der Leyen flying out to sign a deal today.
No. 10 said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would meet the president of the European Commission here for “final talks” at noon. If they reach an agreement to fix the trade protocol, they will hold a joint press conference after informing his cabinet.
Mr Sunak “wants to ensure that any deal resolves practical problems on the ground, ensures the free flow of trade within the UK, secures Northern Ireland’s place in our Union and returns sovereignty to it”, the spokesman said last night of.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab had earlier said the UK and EU were “on the brink” of agreeing how to amend the protocol – introduced by Boris Johnson in 2020 to avoid a hard border with Ireland.
A new deal could see different customs checks on goods arriving in Northern Ireland from within the UK if they were destined for Ireland – which is still part of the EU.
“I think there is real progress,” Mr Raab told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
He later went on to tell the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg: ‘If we can get through this – we’re on the cusp, we’ve made a lot of progress, we’re not there yet – that would be a very important deal.’
Mr Raab said there had been a “paradigm shift” in the approach from Brussels, hinting at changes to customs controls as well as addressing Unionist concerns.
Mr Sunak said at the weekend he was “giving everything” to finalize a deal that kept Brexit hardliners and unionists on side.
He had faced a revolt from some Tory MPs over his rumored deal, with speculation that Northern Ireland Secretary Steve Baker may resign in protest. But Mr Baker offered his congratulations as he left No 10 yesterday after meeting the Prime Minister.
Mr Sunak has been warned by his Eurosceptics and Labor colleagues not to rush into a vote on the revised terms. Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has indicated his party would support a deal. But DUP MP Sammy Wilson told GB News it was a red line that no EU law should apply to Northern Ireland.
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