Northern Ireland news

Sunak hails ‘decisive breakthrough' on post-Brexit rules for Northern Ireland

The King with Rishi Sunak (Leon Neal/PA)
Sam Blewett, David Hughes, Sophie Wingate and Dominic McGrath, PA Political Staff

Rishi Sunak has said his “decisive breakthrough” on post-Brexit rules for Northern Ireland will remove trade barriers in the Irish Sea as he seeks the backing of unionists and Tory Eurosceptics.

The Prime Minister said the controversially named “Windsor framework” finalised with the European Union on Monday will deliver smooth flowing trade and “safeguards sovereignty”.

Mr Sunak and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen agreed the long-awaited deal over the Northern Ireland Protocol after a meeting in Windsor lasting under two hours.

The EU chief will go on to have tea with the King at Windsor Castle despite criticism that the meeting would drag Charles into the politically contentious deal.

At a press conference in Windsor Guildhall, the Prime Minister said: “I'm pleased to report that we have now made a decisive breakthrough.

“Together we have changed the original protocol and are today announcing the new Windsor framework.

“Today's agreement delivers smooth-flowing trade within the whole United Kingdom, protects Northern Ireland's place in our union and safeguards sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland.”

Mr Sunak said he believes the deal is a “turning point for Northern Ireland” that addresses the concerns of the DUP, and is now hoping they will back it and restore powersharing in Stormont.

Referencing changes to customs and VAT rules, Mr Sunak added: “This means we have removed any sense of a border in the Irish Sea.”