UK Sunak tries to sell his EU deal to unionists in Belfast

Rishi Sunak has traveled to Belfast to "sell" his agreement with the European Union on the Ireland Protocol to unionists

UK Sunak tries to sell his EU deal to unionists in Belfast

Rishi Sunak has traveled to Belfast to "sell" his agreement with the European Union on the Ireland Protocol to unionists. After dealing with Boris Johnson and the eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party, the "premier" is trying to convince the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to come out of its isolation and join the rest of the political forces.

"The agreement is a huge step forward that will make a positive difference in Northern Ireland," Sunak told BBC radio upon his arrival in Belfast. "This is above political divisions, although I understand that the parties need time and space."

Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, recognized from the outset that the Windsor agreement - sealed on Monday with the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen - addresses "somehow" the concerns expressed by his party, but that "some issues" remain on the table.

Among its seven proposals for the "rewriting" of the Irish Protocol, the DUP stressed the exclusion of the Court of Justice of the EU, which will ultimately have a "limited" role and as a "last resort" in possible litigation. The main demand of the unionists was in any case the suppression of what they considered as an "internal customs" in the Irish Sea, achieved with the elimination of almost all controls and the creation of a "green channel" for the movement of merchandise between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

With his trip to Belfast, Sunak is trying not only to get the DUP to accept his deal with the EU, but also to finally agree to form a unity government with Sinn Féin and end the ten-month-old power vacuum in Northern Ireland. The formation of unity governments is one of the key points of the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement, but the DUP has blocked the formation of the executive precisely because of its opposition to the Protocol.

"The real test of the new deal will be the restoration of the Stormont Assembly," said Sunak, in direct reference to the DUP's blockade of the formation of an executive. "Nothern Irish deserve and need a government that works."

Sinn Féin, which first won elections in May 2022, has meanwhile hailed the deal with the EU as "a turning point" for Ulster. The vice president of the Republican party, Michelle O'Neill, has called on unionists to put an end to the anomalous situation exacerbated by Brexit.

On his way through Belfast, Sunak stressed that the agreement with the EU has also served to fill "the democracy deficit" in Northern Ireland and stressed that the Stormont Assembly will now have "powers to block EU laws ", reduced to the "minimum necessary" to avoid a return to a hard border between the two Irelands.

"Goods will now be able to move freely on our territory, we have protected Northern Ireland's place in the union and Stormont will be able to apply the 'emergency brake' - a powerful new measure which means the Assembly and Northern Irish people have the control".

According to the criteria of The Trust Project