No 10 raises prospect of NI Protocol breakthrough as PM holds ‘final talks’ with EU

Rishi Sunak. Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

No 10 has signalled that there could be a potential breakthrough in the Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations as the Prime Minister conducts “final talks” with the European Union.

Rishi Sunak has said he wants any deal to safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the Union and returns sovereignty to its people.

Number 10, on Sunday, outlined the Prime Minister's schedule for Monday ahead of an anticipated deal with the EU on the Northern Ireland protocol.

Over the weekend it was reported that Downing Street sources hoped the DUP - which is boycotting power sharing until the protocol is removed - would consider the deal. Although there was little optimism from London on the party backing the agreement.

The major sticking point appears to be the role of the European Court of Justice. The EU, it is reported, remains committed to the ECJ being the ultimate arbiter in disputes on the movement of trade from GB into Northern Ireland.

However, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said it would be unacceptable for NI to fall under the jurisdiction of a court over which it has no control.

Monday's schedule


European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and Rishi Sunak are expected to meet late lunchtime for final talks. Downing Street said the Prime Minister wants to ensure any deal "fixes the practical problems on the ground, ensures trade flows freely within the whole of the UK, safeguards Northern Ireland’s place in our Union and returns sovereignty to the people of Northern Ireland".

While No 10 has been tight-lipped about where the discussions between Mr Sunak and Ms von der Leyen will take place, the commission’s online calendar suggests they will rendezvous at Windsor. Afternoon

There will be a Cabinet meeting in the afternoon, where the Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary and Secretary of State for Northern Ireland will update on the talks.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "This builds on updates that Cabinet have received throughout the process as the government has been pushing for a negotiated solution in the best interest of the people of Northern Ireland and intensive engagement over the weekend." Late afternoon

If a final deal is agreed, the Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission will then hold a short joint press conference in the late afternoon. The Prime Minister will then head to the House of Commons to deliver a statement on the agreement. A Downing Street statement continued: "Over the past few months, there have been intensive negotiations with the EU – run by British Ministers – and positive, constructive progress has been made. There have been hundreds of hours of talks covering all issues at stake and talking from first principles – what works for Northern Ireland."

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