A deal has been reached between the United Kingdom and the European Union to solidify Northern Ireland’s post-brexit trading position. The deal was reached following talks between prime minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen at Windsor.
The two leaders held a meeting for over an hour this afternoon to finalise a deal. The news is significant for northern Ireland as it moves forward with an affirmed post-Brexit deal now reportedly in place.
Mr Sunak and Ms von der Leyen both spoke at a press conference following news of the deal being confirmed. Mr Sunak opened the talks with a tribute to DCI John Caldwell who was shot whilst off duty in Omagh, Northern Ireland last week. He then went on to say that the deal has been reached and he thanked colleagues for helping to get it done.
Mr Sunak said: "Today’s agreement is about preserving that delicate balance and charting a new way forward for the people of Northern Ireland."
The new deal was described as a ‘decisive breakthrough’ for Brexit. ‘Landmark settlement’ on medicines means that medicines approved for use in Britain will automatically become available in Northern Ireland.
The deal, according to Mr Sunak, is about “Stability in Northern Ireland,” and showing that “the union, which has existed for centuries, can and will endure.” He added that the deal will help in “Breaking down the barriers between us that for too long have divided us.”
Mr Sunak gave further details on the deal. He said: “Goods destined for Northern Ireland will travel through a new green lane with a separate red lane for goods at risk of moving on to the EU. We will end the situation where food made to UK rules could not be sent to and sold in Northern Ireland. This means that if food is available on supermarket shelves in Great Britain, then it will be available on supermarket in Northern Ireland.”
Ms von der Leyen said that the new deal will provide “lasting solutions” going forward. She said: “We knew it was not going to be easy. We knew we needed to listen to each other’s concerns very carefully. Above all, we had to listen to the concerns of the people of Northern Ireland.”
The hopes to maintain a strong relationship between the UK and the EU were reiterated by the president. She added that it is important to be “standing as close partners, shoulder to shoulder now and in the future.”
Mr Sunak said that parliament will be given chance to vote on the deal “at an apporapriate time” but said that the most important people involved are the businesses and people of Northern Ireland. He added that he hopes the people of Northern Ireland can “look forward” to a better future.