Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has hailed a post-Brexit Northern Ireland trade deal as a “decisive breakthrough”.
Many Conservative MPs, including those who support Brexit, backed the deal.
And that support is the key to restore DUP power sharing Northern Ireland said it had made “great progress”.
But the party warned that “major concerns” remain.
Snack traveled to Belfast on Tuesday as part of an effort to pitch the Brexit deal, telling businesses and politicians how he believed it would ease trade flows between Britain, Northern Ireland and Ireland. detailed.
DUP leader Sir Geoffrey Donaldson said his party would consider legal documents before coming to a decision on whether to support the deal.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 today, he said:
“We are reasonable people, but we want to make sure what the prime minister says is consistent with what the deal actually is.”
Republicans are boycotting the devolved government until concerns over the Northern Ireland Protocol are resolved, and some Conservative MPs have said they will only support the deal if it gets the DUP’s backing.
Sinn Fein, the largest party in Northern Ireland’s parliament, welcomed the deal, although it said details needed to be worked out.
Republican Vice President Michelle O’Neill has repeatedly called for the DUP to return to decentralized government, adding, “We’ve always said pragmatism will find the solution.”
After months of negotiations and speculation over a potential deal, it was finally announced on a carefully choreographed event date.
Around 14:00 GMT, rumors began to emerge within the government that an agreement had finally been reached on the issue that had plagued the four prime ministers.
The Prime Minister confirmed the breakthrough shortly after a joint press conference with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Windsor.
There was a noteworthy warmth between the Prime Minister and Mrs von der Leyen as they outlined the deal on Monday, with the EU chief calling the Prime Minister a “dear rishi” and vowing to “strengthen welcomed a “new chapter” in EU-UK relations”.
When Mr Snack returned to London to address the House of Commons, details of the long-awaited deal had landed well with some MPs who might have been expected to create political problems for the prime minister.
The Northern Ireland office minister and Brexit driving force, Steve Baker, said Mr Sunak was “blindfolded”.
He revealed that he had considered resigning “by yesterday,” but added that the agreement “should be good enough for reasonable union members.”
During a debate in the House of Commons, former Prime Minister Theresa May urged lawmakers to back the deal, but two former leaders, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, did not attend.
The 10th place would be happy with the reaction from the US. In the United States, unresolved issues regarding a deal in Northern Ireland are seen as a stumbling block to potential trade talks between London and Washington.
US President Joe Biden said the deal was “an essential step to ensure that the hard-won peace and progress of the Belfast/Good Friday deal are preserved and strengthened.”
The agreement, dubbed the Windsor Framework, modifies the Northern Ireland Protocol signed by Mr Johnson and entered into force in 2021.
This protocol was intended to ensure the free movement of goods across Irish borders by instead conducting checks between Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom.
But under the treaty Northern Ireland had to comply with some EU rules.
Mr Snack said the new agreement “ensures smooth trade across the UK, protects Northern Ireland’s position in the alliance and protects the sovereignty of the Northern Irish people”.
- Goods from the UK destined for Northern Ireland pass through a new ‘green lane’ and goods at risk of moving to the EU pass through another ‘red lane’.
- Goods arriving in Northern Ireland via the Green Lane will have significantly reduced checks and paperwork, while Red Lane goods will continue to be subject to regular checks.
- ‘Stormont brake’ allows Northern Ireland parliament to challenge ‘substantially different’ EU rules applying to Northern Ireland
- UK VAT and excise rules apply in Northern Ireland to real estate such as alcoholic beverages for immediate consumption and heat pumps.Previously EU VAT rules could apply to Northern Ireland
But there is no guarantee that it will lead to the return of a government empowered to share power with Northern Ireland. The DUP said in a statement that “significant progress has been made in many areas”, but concerns remain.
“In some areas of our economy, we cannot hide the fact that EU law still applies to Northern Ireland.”
The party said it would review the deal going forward and seek “further clarifications, rework, or changes as necessary.”
The nationalist Social Democratic Labor Party and the Alliance Party, which is neither nationalist nor union activist, welcomed the deal, but both said they had concerns about Stormont’s brake clause.
But the Party of Traditional Unionist Voices said the agreement was “not a lot of substance, but a lot of spin” and meant that the Protocol would “virtually survive”.
The Ulster Unionist Party said it would look into the details but said it did not intend to cover other parties.
Several Brexit-supporting MPs have responded positively to the deal.
Former Brexit chief David Davis said the prime minister had “succeeded in tough negotiations” and “secured the best possible deal”.
Former Commerce Secretary Andrea Leadsom said there had been “great progress”, adding that “it all depends on whether the NI community feels it’s the right solution.”
But other Tory MPs are more cautious, with prominent euroskeptic Sir Bill Cash saying that “more than ever, the devil is in the details”.
DUP MP Ian Paisley said the agreement was “insufficient” in many key areas, including the European Court of Justice’s continued role as final arbitrator in disputes over EU rules.
“My instinct is to not cut the mustard,” he told BBC Newsnight.
Sunak said parliament will vote on the deal “at the right time” but that lawmakers should have a chance to consider the details.
Labor has said it will support the deal, but the government will be reluctant to rely on votes against it.
Leader Sir Kea Sturmer said the deal was not “perfect” and that “now that an agreement has been reached, we all have an obligation to make it work”.
Sunak also confirmed that the government is scrapping the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill. The bill, introduced during the Johnson era, would have given Britain the power to unilaterally scrap some parts of the old deal.
He said the bill was no longer needed and had “lost” its original legal legitimacy.