Rishi Sunak has been warned not to serve up a “half-baked” agreement to resolve the hated Brexit deal as fears surge that he is about to give too much away to the European Union to resolve the Northern Ireland Protocol impasse. DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has cautioned against any temporary deal with Brussels and has urged the Prime Minister to “get this done, and done properly”.
He also poured cold water over recent reports that the UK and EU are close to striking a deal to finally seal a breakthrough in post-Brexit trading arrangements that have created huge economic barriers between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Unionists in the country continue to be strongly opposed to arrangements they claim have weakened the region’s place within the union.
Sir Jeffrey has now ramped up the pressure on the UK Government to strike the “right deal” with Brussels.
He told GB News: “I am very clear that we need to get this right and therefore I would say to the UK Government and to the Prime Minister, don’t go for a half-baked deal, don’t go for some kind of interim arrangement – let’s get this done, and done properly.
“Because if we’re to restore the political institutions in Northern Ireland, if we’re to be able to move Northern Ireland forward with cross-community support, then we need an agreement that unionists, as well as nationalists, can support.
“That means dealing with very difficult and challenging issues. That’s what leadership is about. So, I think the pressure is on the UK Government to get a deal done, but I want to see them get the right deal for Northern Ireland and for the whole of the UK.”
Sir Jeffrey also dismissed hope of an imminent breakthrough on the Protocol issue between the UK and EU, claiming there is “still quite a gap to close on some very significant issues”.
But he has not ruled out progress being made between the two sides over the next few weeks as intensive talks continue.
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Mr Johnson is “deeply concerned” the government will strike a compromise with the Brussels over the Protocol which gives a role to European judges, according to sources close to the former Prime Minister.
Insiders told the Daily Mail he fears the European Court of Justice (ECJ) may end up as the final arbiter of EU laws that apply within Northern Ireland, in an attempt to bring an end to the dispute.
On Sunday, a government spokesperson said: “As we’ve said repeatedly, any solution on the Protocol must address the range of issues including governance and the democratic deficit on how new EU laws apply in NI.”
Last week, Leo Varadkar admitted he had regrets over the Protocol being imposed in Northern Ireland without the support of both unionists and nationalists.
When asked whether anything could have been done differently during the protocol talks, the Irish Taoiseach told the BBC his main regret was that the measure had been “imposed on Northern Ireland without the support of both communities”.
He added: “In the same way Brexit was imposed on Northern Ireland without the support of both communities, the protocol was imposed on Northern Ireland without the support of two communities”.
But Mr Varadkar insisted the Protocol is working from an economic standpoint and the absence of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic was proof of this.