Rishi Sunak heads to Northern Ireland as protocol deal imminent

Rishi Sunak heads to Northern Ireland as protocol deal imminent
Опубликовано: Thursday, 16 February 2023 17:25

Officials say a deal is likely as early as Tuesday but could still fall apart in the coming days.


LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is traveling to Northern Ireland later Thursday to meet local politicians and business people in the region, as a deal with the EU on post-Brexit trade looms closer.

Sunak’s visit, first reported by the BBC Thursday, was confirmed by an industry representative and one local politician, amid expectation a deal on post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland could be announced as early as Tuesday next week after six months of talks.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Northern Ireland Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris are expected to hold a lunch meeting with Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice-president and Brexit point-man, in Brussels Friday, according to an EU diplomat. Šefčovič will brief EU ambassadors in private session afterward.

Sunak has scheduled a weekend meeting with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

No. 10 Downing Street is expected to go public soon after the prime minister briefs the Cabinet Tuesday to minimize the window for leaks, according to two U.K. officials, who warned the draft agreement was not finalized and could yet fall apart.

Meanwhile, Downing Street maintains no deal has been done and that technical talks continue.

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