Northern Ireland Brexit Deal Expected Within Days, Dominic Raab Says
Britain's Justice Secretary and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab.
A fresh Northern Ireland Brexit deal is expected “in a matter of days”, Dominic Raab has said.
The deputy prime minister suggested negotiators were “on the cusp of a deal” over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
A new agreement has looked close to being announced for almost a week and Raab’s comments suggested an announcement is imminent.
There are hopes that a fresh deal will secure the return of powersharing at Stormont, after the Democratic Unionist Party [DUP] walked out in protest at the protocol last February.
Raab told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “We’ve clearly made some progress in recent weeks and days, and it is really important to get this fixed.”
Asked whether a deal could be unveiled on Monday, the Cabinet minister replied: “I think there is real progress.
“We want to make sure all the pieces are in place. But I think, hopefully, there will be good news in a matter of days, not weeks.”
What Is The Northern Ireland Protocol?
It is a trading arrangement, negotiated during Brexit talks, to allow goods to be transported across the Irish land border without the need for checks.
The deal was aimed at protecting the delicate Good Friday Agreement and to avoid putting up a hard border between NI and the Republic.
However, unionist parties argue that the protocol instead places an effective border across the Irish Sea, undermining Northern Ireland’s place within the UK.
NI’s largest unionist party, the DUP, is refusing to take part in the power-sharing government unless its concerns are resolved.
Rishi Sunak said his administration is “giving it everything we’ve got” to finalise a deal.
The prime minister said he is hopeful of a “positive outcome” in the talks with the European Union as Westminster braces for a new-look protocol to be unveiled.
Sunak wants to ensure the DUP is on side with his final agreement as he looks to restore powersharing in Northern Ireland.
The DUP is refusing to take part in Stormont’s cross-community devolved government alongside Sinn Fein in protest at the impact the Brexit treaty is having on trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Irish premier Leo Varadkar said on Saturday that talks between the UK and the EU were “inching towards conclusion” as he called on all sides to “go the extra mile” to sign off on negotiations.
Prime minister Sunak told The Sunday Times that he was continuing to push for a final agreement with the bloc.
“I’m here all weekend trying to get it done,” he told the newspaper. “We’re giving it everything we’ve got.”
He admitted that there were examples of “where it feels that Northern Ireland is not part of the Union” and that the protocol had “unbalanced” the Good Friday Agreement that helped end the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Trusted traders from GB into Northern Ireland will reportedly not need to undergo checks as part of the plans, while VAT rates, taxes and state aid policy will all be set by Westminster rather than Brussels as part of the offer on the table.
The prime minister has also reportedly negotiated a means by which the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast will be given pre-legislative scrutiny over new EU laws in a bid to remove the so-called “democratic deficit”.
According to The Sun On Sunday, Sunak will invite Cabinet ministers into No.10 on Sunday to brief them on the details of what he has secured so far.
It follows interventions from Boris Johnson and rumblings of a potential rebellion from Tory backbenchers.
Johnson recently implored Sunak not to drop his Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would unilaterally overwrite parts of the treaty.
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