What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and how does it affect the UK?
Rishi Sunak is expected to travel to Northern Ireland later, after securing a deal with the EU that he promised would be a “turning point” for the region after years of post-Brexit tensions.
The so-called Windsor Framework was earlier hailed as “historic” by the European Commission president, who insisted the deal marked a “new chapter” in UK-EU relations at a press conference with the prime minister.
It provides for the creation of a fast-tracked “green” lane for certain goods entering Northern Ireland, and hands the Northern Ireland Assembly a new “Stormont brake” which allows the UK government to “veto” changes to EU goods rules which may apply to Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is considering whether to rebel over the post-Brexit deal as a source close to the former PM said he was studying and reflecting on the new framework.
They did not deny a report that Mr Johnson had asked the DUP to without support until they had looked carefully at the agreement.
The ex-PM contacted the DUP on Monday to ask them to “think hard” about backing it, according to Politics Home.
PM seeks to sell ‘breakthrough’ deal
Rishi Sunak is expected to travel to Northern Ireland after securing a deal with the EU that he promised would be a “turning point” for the region after years of post-Brexit tensions.
The new deal, dubbed the Windsor Framework, removes barriers on trade across the Irish Sea and hands a “veto” to politicians in Stormont on EU law.
But it still includes a role for the European Court of Justice, with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Tory backbenchers now set to study closely the details of the complex set of arrangements in the coming days.
The prime minister is also expected to speak to backbench MPs today.
Alisha Rahaman Sarkar28 February 2023 05:30
Northern Ireland ‘world’s most exciting economic zone’, says Sunak
Rishi Sunak said the deal would create “the world’s most exciting economic zone” with access to both EU and UK markets.
On a visit to Lisburn’s Coca-Cola factory, he said: “Northern Ireland is in the unbelievably special position – unique position in the entire world, European continent – in having privileged access, not just to the UK home market, which is enormous, but also the EU single market.”
Sunak added: “Nobody else has that. No one. Only you guys: only here, and that is the prize.”
Critics online were swift to point out that the entire UK had full and access to the EU’s “exciting” single market before Brexit.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 February 2023 11:19
Prime minister repeats call for Northern Ireland to return to powersharing
Rishi Sunak repeated his call for politicians in Northern Ireland to return to powersharing.
While the Prime Minister did not reference the DUP by name, he said that the Stormont brake contained in the Windsor Framework addressed concerns about sovereignty and the protocol.
Speaking at a factory in Northern Ireland as he promoted his Windsor Framework deal, Mr Sunak was asked multiple questions about the fact the Northern Ireland Assembly is not sitting.
He said that concerns “people had with the protocol were valid”.
“Now look, how we deal with that is a separate question, but the fact that people had concerns about it, I think is reasonable.”
He stressed that his new deal “corrected” the issues.
“The framework is a fantastic agreement that delivers on all the things people care about. So now I hope that they do see it and see that and they can find a way to come back together.”
He told the audience: “It’s what you deserve.”
“What we’ve done, though, is empower that assembly even more with this new Stormont brake that I talked about.
“Even more incentive to get back in. So for all the people who said well, we don’t feel like we’ve got enough sovereignty in this situation, that there’s a democratic deficit with this EU – we’ve corrected it. We’ve put more power in the hands of Stormont, in those very people. But they need to get back in, they need to get put back in so they can use those powers. We’ve provided the means now, and I hope that with time and space, they will see that that’s the right way forward.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 February 2023 11:06
DUP will ‘take its time’, says Donaldson
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told BBC’s Good Morning that the party would not be rushed into making a decision on whether to back Rishi Sunak’s protocol deal.
“Our party officers, our assembly members, our MPs and ultimately even our party executive will determine the party’s approach on this issue,” he said.
“We will consult and we will take our time. We will talk to people, we will listen to what they are saying.”
Asked if the party was split, Donaldson said: “Absolutely not.”
While Donaldson was careful to say there are “key concerns”, but DUP MP Ian Paisley Jnr has already said his “gut instinct” was that the deal “does not cut the mustard”.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 February 2023 10:49
Sunak says Windsor Framework would make NI ‘world’s most exciting economic zone’
Rishi Sunak has said getting his Windsor Framework for Northern Ireland implemented would create “the world’s most exciting economic zone” with access to EU and UK markets.
The prime minister, speaking at a factory in Northern Ireland, said: “If we get this right, if we get this framework implemented, if we get the Executive back up and running here, Northern Ireland is in the unbelievably special position – unique position in the entire world, European continent – in having privileged access, not just to the UK home market, which is enormous… but also the European Union single market.
“Nobody else has that. No one. Only you guys: only here, and that is the prize.
“I can tell you, when I go around the world and talk to businesses, they know that – they’re like: ‘That’s interesting. If you guys get this sorted, then we want to invest in Northern Ireland, because nowhere else does that exist.’
“That’s like the world’s most exciting economic zone.”
The government aims to work with international companies to help them “take advantage of Northern Ireland’s very special position”, he added.
“And they are queuing up to do so, particularly from the US actually.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 February 2023 10:40
PM acknowledges supermarket shortages but insists situation is improving
Rishi Sunak acknowledged the shortages on supermarket shelves but insisted the situation was improving.
The prime minister, speaking at a factory in Northern Ireland to promote his Windsor Framework deal, said: “The hassle of getting a supermarket lorry from Great Britain to Northern Ireland was enormous, hundreds of certificate, tonnes of bureaucracy to get through.
“And worse, what was available in Great Britain on the shelves in the supermarket – which I know is a bit challenging at the moment but is getting better – but more generally, was not available on the shelves in Northern Ireland and that wasn’t right.
“And we’ve resolved all those issues, there’s going to be the same things in both places and that’s as it should be.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 February 2023 10:19
Live: Rishi Sunak’s Q&A session live from Lisburn after Northern Ireland protocol deal struck
Watch live from Lisburn as Rishi Sunak takes part in a Q&A session during his trip to the city’s Coca-Cola plant.
He is in Northern Ireland following the announcement of a historic deal that he hopes will bring an end to the row over the bill.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 February 2023 10:13
‘Small and limited’ role for EU law in NI, Sunak admits
Rishi Sunak has acknowledged that the Windsor Framework meant there was still a “small and limited role” for EU law in Northern Ireland.
Asked about DUP objections to some EU law remaining, Mr Sunak told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the role of EU law “only persists for as long as the people are happy with it”.
“What we have done yesterday is introduce a new measure – the Stormont brake – which gives power to the institution in Northern Ireland, Stormont, to say that if there’s a new law that’s going to significantly impact people’s lives coming from the EU, they will be able to block it,” he said.
He said there would be only “small and limited role for EU law in Northern Ireland … what we are talking about is less than 3% of EU laws that apply in Northern Ireland”.
Mr Sunak said he believed “hand on heart” that the Windsor Framework addresses the concerns of people in Northern Ireland.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 February 2023 09:49
How the papers covered Rishi Sunak’s ‘breakthrough’ on Northern Ireland deal
Dubbed the Windsor Framework, the deal is lengthy, complicated and currently being poured over by the Democratic Unionist Party, Tory backbenchers and businesses across Northern Ireland.
On our own The Independent front page, we praise the PM for “finally” getting Brexit done.
The Times and i hail the development as a “Brexit breakthrough”, which grants Britain the power to veto EU laws.
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 February 2023 09:30
Foreign secretary warns they do not want to make changes on Sunak’s new deal
Foreign secretary James Cleverly has cautioned that there is little scope to make any changes to Rishi Sunak’s deal with Brussels on post-Brexit trading arrangements with Northern Ireland.
Mr Cleverly told BBC Breakfast: “We don’t want to change this. It is a finely balanced document. We have got the European Commission to move a very, very long way from their starting point.
“We really value their engagement and their willingness to be flexible to help resolve some of the outstanding issues. We don’t want them to start changing things back again.
“This is really good deal. I hope everyone recognises how much we have achieved for the people of Northern Ireland.”
Asked who arranged European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen’s meeting with the King, Mr Cleverly told Sky News: “Decisions about the King’s diary are, rightly, for the Palace.”
Maryam Zakir-Hussain28 February 2023 09:15