Royal row hits Rishi Sunak's plan to sign Brexit deal with EU today
RISHI Sunak has been branded “tone deaf” after teeing up a meeting between King Charles and an EU chief on the day of a possible Brexit deal.
Former DUP Arlene Foster said the monarch’s meeting this afternoon with Ursual von der Leyen was “crass and will go down very badly” in Northern Ireland.
The European Commission insisted that the meeting between its president and King Charles was not part of the talks on the NI protocol.
However Buckingham Palace confirmed the KIng was acting on “the Government’s advice” on a day of careful political choreography.
Ms von der Leyen is meeting the Prime Minister today as the UK and EU edge towards a deal on reforming the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The changes are expected to ease post-Brexit checks on goods moving between GB and NI which are required under the current protocol.
However the moment is hugely risky for Mr Sunak, as it is still unclear whether the DUP will approve the package. If they reject it, many Brexiteer Tory MPs will also revolt.
In a possible sign of trouble for the PM, some Unionists have reacted badly to news King Charles will meet Ms von der Leyen at Windsor Castle, despite warnings it could be seen as dragging the politically neutral monarch into a highly charged political debate.
The King and the Commission president will sit down for tea late on Monday after she is expected to sign off on an agreement with Sunak.
Buckingham Palace said the King was acting on “the Government’s advice” and that their discussions would feature a “range of topics”.
There were fears the meeting could be seen as the King tacitly endorsing Mr Sunak’s deal.
DUP chief whip Sammy Wilson said the meeting risked “dragging the King into a hugely controversial political issue”.
Ms Foster also tweeted: “I cannot quite believe that No10 would ask HM the King to become involved in the finalising of a deal as controversial as this one. It’s crass and will go down very badly in NI.
“We must remember this is not the King’s decision but the Government who it appears are tone deaf.”
Leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said it would be a mistake for Ms von der Leyen to meet the King during her visit to the UK.
The former Cabinet minister told GB News: “I think the sovereign should only be involved when things have been completed and accepted.
“The King gives assent to acts of Parliament when Parliament has agreed, he doesn’t express his view on acts of Parliament when they are going through the process.
“I think the same applies – that His Majesty should not be involved until there is full support for this agreement.”
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “The King is pleased to meet any world leader if they are visiting Britain and it is the Government’s advice that he should do so.”
Charles and Ms von der Leyen will meet at Windsor Castle once her commitments elsewhere have been fulfilled.