Rishi Sunak said his government was “giving it all” to reach agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“There is unfinished business on Brexit and I want to get the job done,” the prime minister told The Sunday Times, adding it was vital to ensure a return to power sharing.
He said he would try to address the concerns of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is concerned about the European Union retaining influence over Northern Ireland.
The DUP is refusing to participate in Stormont’s devolved community government alongside Sinn Fein in protest of the impact the Brexit treaty is having on trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
The party issued seven tests that Lord SunakIreland’s pact will have to deliver to win its support, including addressing what it calls the “democratic deficit” of Northern Ireland being subject to EU rules while not having a say in them.
Mr. Sunak promised that “anything we do will tick all those boxes” in terms of union concerns.
Momentum has been building through weeks of tense negotiations and an agreement to ease trade checks introduced under the Northern Ireland Protocol is expected within days.
Conservative MPs were said they should be at Westminster on Mondaysuggesting a deal may be imminent.
answer from ireland
Mr Sunak’s Irish counterpart, Leo Varadkarsaid they were “moving towards a conclusion” of the deal.
“I think the protocol reform negotiations are moving towards a conclusion,” said the Irish prime minister.
“Certainly the deal is not closed yet, but I think we are moving towards a conclusion.
“There is a possibility of an agreement in the coming days, but by no means guaranteed… There is still a gap to be filled,” Varadkar said, adding that there was continued engagement between the UK government and the European Commission.
Varadkar, who played a key role when the protocol was signed in 2019, encouraged politicians in London, Brussels and Northern Ireland to “go the extra mile” to reach a deal, saying the benefits would be “huge”.
A deal would end a two-year standoff between the UK and the EU, but Sunak could face a battle with pro-Brexit conservatives and Northern Irish unionist politicians to make the deal work.
King Charles was supposed to meet with von der Leyen
This comes after Sky News Deputy Political Editor Sam Coates revealed that King Charles was lined up by number 10 to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Saturday, when negotiations over the protocol were about to come to a head.
The King was expected to play a major role in the latter part of the negotiations – although there was no suggestion that he would have had a hand in the negotiations.
The move could have been interpreted as the king giving his blessing to the talks or even endorsing the deal had it been completed this morning, but it was called off on Friday.
There was also talk of calling the potential deal the “Windsor Agreement”.
Read more: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and why is it important?
PM ‘naive’ to ‘drag King into hugely controversial political issue’
DUP MP Sammy Wilson said any Windsor meeting with the EU leader would have been “a cynical use” of the king’s position and would be seen in unionist circles as the sovereign endorsing the deal.
He branded Sunak “naive” and accused him of “draggling the king into an extremely contentious political issue”.
“The only conclusion we can come to is that he (Mr Sunak) knows that in these negotiations he has not achieved the goals he has set for himself and his own party,” Wilson told Sky News.
“He also didn’t keep the promises he made to ourselves and was now trying to get the king to pull the thing over the line for him.”