King Charles was due to meet EU Commission head Ursula von der Leyen tomorrow in the final leg of NI Protocol negotiations | policy news

King Charles was scheduled by Number 10 to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday – just as the highly contentious negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol were about to come to a head.

After weeks of tense talks and growing anger among Conservative advocates and unionists, a deal between the UK and the EU on Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit deal, which could lead to a major rebellion, is expected within days.

Now, Sky News can reveal that the King was expected to play an important role in the final part of the protocol negotiations, as he meets with Ms. von der Leyen on Saturday.

This could have been interpreted as giving his blessing to late-stage talks or even endorsing the deal in full if it had been completed by Saturday morning, as was rumored at one stage.

But it was canceled on Friday.

At one stage, the plan for Saturday was for Von der Leyen to meet Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to endorse the deal and separately for her to meet the king.

There were also discussions of calling the agreement the “Windsor Agreement”, giving it an air of royal authority.

However, backing the king would likely be deeply controversial, risking claims that he is being dragged into politics.

Her mother, the late Queen, faced criticism for an attempt to enter politics when she suggested that Scottish referendum voters think very carefully before voting.

The king’s meeting with the negotiator at this stage can be seen as an even more overt political act than that.

Use Chrome Browser for a more accessible video player

Tory Rebellion on the NI Protocol

The decision to organize the meeting was reportedly agreed by Downing Street and Buckingham Palace jointly.

Some around Mr. Sunak would have liked the King, as perhaps the most prominent unionist in the country, to be seen to have an interest in their outcome and this, in turn, encouraged support from the unionists.

No formal invitation was ever offered. However, UK politicians and official and senior EU figures were aware of the event taking place in Windsor on Saturday afternoon.

A source close to the negotiation says the king’s involvement was definitely an attempt to sell the protocol internally.

However, other government sources are deeply concerned that this will politicize the new king even before his coronation.

Northern Ireland Labor Secretary Peter Kyle said: “Sunak is already showing that negotiating is better than fighting, but his lack of political acumen and judgment is once again undermining his chance of success.”

Number 10 and Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

Leave a Comment