UK PM Sunak to meet EU chief Leyen to finalise Brexit’s Northern Ireland deal

London [UK], February 27 (ANI): UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will meet on Monday for "final talks" on the Northern Ireland Protocol, reported Sky News.

"President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak agreed to continue their work in person towards shared, practical solutions for the range of complex challenges around the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland," the leaders said in a joint statement on Sunday.

Both leaders will seek to finalise a new deal to tackle trade and political disruption in Northern Ireland caused by Brexit.

The meeting is a sign that a deal is within reach, but Downing Street sources have told Sky News that there are still final details to work through.

The agreement would mark an end to a two-year standoff between the United Kingdom and the EU.

The Northern Ireland Protocol has been a big sticking point between the two sides since the UK formally left the EU in 2020.

The current deal allows goods to be transported across the Irish land border without needing checks -- a sensitive issue because of Northern Ireland’s troubled political history.

It means that goods arriving from Britain are checked at Northern Irish ports.

For this reason, unionist parties like the DUP feel the protocol undermines Northern Ireland’s ties with the rest of the UK.

Sunak could face a battle with pro-Brexit Conservative lawmakers and pro-British Northern Irish politicians to make the deal work, reported Al Jazeera.

The political impasse has also caused a shutdown of the government in Northern Ireland, with the DUP refusing to participate in power-sharing.

Key players in Northern Ireland -- which is part of the UK -- have set a high bar for the kind of deal they would support and Sunak’s own Conservatives are still riddled with the divisions over Brexit that have at times paralysed British politics since the country’s 2016 vote to leave the EU.

As part of its exit agreement, the UK signed an accord with Brussels known as the Northern Ireland Protocol to avoid imposing politically contentious checks along the 500km land border with EU member the Republic of Ireland, reported Al Jazeera. (ANI)