Ireland hails protocol progress, says Sunak deserves to be able to get deal done
The Irish Prime Minister said Britain and the European Union had made “massive progress” in easing trade rules for Northern Ireland after Brexit and that British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak should have the time to finalize a deal.
After weeks of intense talks between London and Brussels, an agreement has advanced on the revision of the Northern Ireland Protocol – the agreements to avoid a hard border with EU member Ireland when Britain leaves the EU in 2020.
Sunak’s spokesman said the prime minister had previously told his cabinet that intensive talks were continuing and that his foreign and Northern Ireland ministers would hold talks with the EU’s Brexit chief, Maros Sefcovic, for a second consecutive day on Tuesday.
“I can’t say whether we’ll have an agreement this week or not. I know there’s been huge progress in reaching an agreement on the protocol,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday during a a press conference.
“I know Prime Minister Sunak wants to consult his party, wants to consult the parties in Northern Ireland and I think it’s really important that we give time and space for this to happen and avoid any comment which could make it harder to come to an agreement on this.”
Talks have shifted into high gear in recent days, notably between Sunak and the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP), whose opposition to the protocol must be overcome in order to reach a deal.
While polls consistently show a majority of voters in Northern Ireland – who previously opposed Brexit – support the idea of the protocol, the imposition of controls on goods from the rest of the UK has angered many pro-British trade unionists, who see it as undermining union with Britain.
The DUP, Northern Ireland’s largest pro-British party, boycotted the power-sharing regional parliament last year in protest at the protocol.
Sunak also met with pro-Brexit Tories to allay concerns over a possible deal.
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