| 12 April 2024, Friday |

UK’s Sunak wants Northern Ireland deal to ‘get the job done’ on Brexit

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declared that he was “giving it everything” in order to negotiate a new post-Brexit trade agreement with the European Union that would guarantee the restoration of power-sharing in the province.

The Sunday Times said that a deal might be announced as soon as Monday and Sunak added, “There’s unfinished business on Brexit and I want to get the job done.”

That is when lawmakers in Sunak’s Conservative Party have been told to be in parliament.

As part of its 2020 agreement for leaving the EU, Britain reached an accord with Brussels known as the Northern Ireland Protocol to avoid imposing politically contentious checks along the 500 kilometer (300 mile) land border with EU member Ireland.

But the protocol effectively created a border in the Irish Sea for some goods moving from Britain because it kept Northern Ireland in the European Union’s single market for goods.

Sunak said he would try to resolve the concerns about the deal expressed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is worried about the EU retaining influence over Northern Ireland.

Ireland’s prime minister Leo Varadkar told reporters earlier on Saturday that Britain and the EU were inching forwards.

Sunak said he was hopeful of a positive outcome to the talks and he would spend the weekend trying to finish them.

In a nod to the DUP, he said the 1998 Good Friday peace deal for Northern Ireland had been unbalanced by the protocol, which has prompted the DUP to boycott Northern Ireland’s assembly.

“If we want to restore the power-sharing institutions in Northern Ireland, which I very much want to do and I think that’s what people need and deserve, then we need to resolve the issues of the protocol,” Sunak said.

He said Wednesday’s shooting of a police officer “reminds us of the delicate situation in Northern Ireland, the fragility of it, and we shouldn’t take it for granted. And that’s why getting power-sharing up and running is really important.”

The officer is in critical condition in hospital.

The DUP was dissatisfied that Northern Ireland will have to follow some EU single-market regulations, unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, according to The Sunday Times, but Sunak was sure that the deal met all of the DUP’s requirements.

According to the publication, Jeffrey Donaldson, the head of the DUP, was “inclined to reject the accord.”

Sunak responded, “I know, people will always want to know every single detail, but ultimately you can’t conduct a very complicated negotiation in public,” when asked about the frustration among DUP and some Conservative lawmakers – including former prime minister Boris Johnson – over being kept in the dark about the deal.

  • Reuters