Sunak vows to 'keep fighting' with EU on Northern Ireland
The British PM says the government is in intensive discussions with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday indicated that no deal is about to be concluded with the European Union to reform Northern Ireland's post-Brexit trade, vowing to "keep fighting" for a satisfactory outcome.
A potential decision by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to drop a bill that gives the government power to unilaterally override the Northern Ireland Protocol bill (NIPB) has led to the rise of some voices calling him against the step, including UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman and former PM Boris Johnson, The Guardian reported.
Facing strong criticism from pro-UK unionists in Northern Ireland and hardline Brexiteers in his own Conservative party, Sunak said, "We are still in intensive discussions with the European Union to ensure we can find agreement to meet the tests that I have set."
"I have a good understanding of what is required and I will keep fighting until I get it," the British Prime Minister affirmed.
Sunak highlighted three priorities for the negotiation: guaranteeing democratic sovereignty for Northern Ireland, safeguarding its status in the wider United Kingdom, and finding "practical solutions" to problems facing companies.
Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) opposes the protocol, which kept the province in the EU's single market for physical goods after the rest of the UK left. The party is refusing to re-enter a power-sharing government in Belfast.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson considered that the protocol must be not just reformed but replaced "by rewriting the legally binding treaty text" with the EU.
Introduced by then-Foreign Minister Liz Truss, the NIPB would allow the government to unilaterally override parts of the Brexit treaty - without the approval of Northern Ireland.
One key issue concerning the DUP and Tory right-wingers is the prospect of the European Court of Justice retaining oversight of the protocol, without input from Northern Irish lawmakers.
But Sunak is also under pressure to rebalance strained ties with the EU as a way of revitalizing the troubled UK economy, which has been hit hard by reduced trade since Brexit as well as by the Covid pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
The British Prime Minister said he had heard "loud and clear" the DUP's demands before the party would agree to restore the legislative assembly in Belfast, which is set for the first time to be led by the pro-Irish party Sinn Fein.
Plugging a "democratic deficit" surrounding the protocol was at "the very heart of the issues that must be addressed" with the EU, Sunak indicated.
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