Von der Leyen travels to the United Kingdom to seal the agreement on Northern Ireland with Sunak | International | The USA Print

The most unexpected political figure in the long and agonizing Brexit tragicomedy, Rishi Sunak, has managed to garner the goodwill and trust of all parties involved who want a full stop. The fact that the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, will travel to the United Kingdom this Monday to finalize the details of an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol, and present it together with the British Prime Minister in the latter’s territory , supposes an express recognition to the task carried out by Sunak. This last marathon will have the support of Buckingham Palace, despite the controversy that the decision has unleashed: Carlos III will also meet with Von der Leyen. “It is the British institutions that have prepared the visit,” responded a community spokesman in Brussels, reports Manuel V. Gomez.

After the meeting of both political leaders in a hotel in the town of Windsor, 40 kilometers west of London, Sunak has met his Cabinet (ministers plus other members of Government) by videoconference. He has exposed for the first time before them, in a collegiate manner, the agreement reached with Brussels, which aims to put an end to two years of bitter confrontations that were about to lead to a trade war between the two blocs.

Sunak and Von der Leyen will jointly present the agreement and undergo questions from journalists. The scheduled time for that appearance is 3:30 p.m. (4:30 p.m., Spanish peninsular time).

Last Friday, various media confirmed the preparations for the president of the European Commission to travel immediately to the United Kingdom, the same Saturday, to seal the pact with Sunak. Preparations even began for a meeting between Von der Leyen and the King, Charles III, and Downing Street was already toying with giving a historical package to the solution reached for Northern Ireland, which would be dubbed the “Windsor agreement.” Criticism from numerous conservative eurosceptics, and even from members of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) ―the cause of the blockade of the autonomous institutions for their rejection of the Protocol, who saw in the move an abuse of the due position of political neutrality of the monarch —, led to the cancellation of the plans.

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The decision, this Monday, that the joint presentation act of Sunak and Von der Leyen is finally in Windsor, where Carlos of England has one of his main residences, has confirmed the expectations of a meeting between the community leader and the monarch. The president of the European Commission will be received by the British monarch after her joint appearance with the prime minister, as confirmed by Buckingham Palace. The meeting, a Downing Street spokesman wanted to insist, “has nothing to do with the protocol negotiations.”

There have been several eurosceptics, and unionist politicians, who have expressed their irritation at the last-minute decision that the monarch had a role in a day that is claimed to be historic. “It is surprising that the King meets with Ursula von der Leyen today (Monday), because he clashes head-on with the desire of those with whom the prime minister wants to be conciliatory,” said the former minister and first-time anti-EU, Jacob Rees-Mogg. “It does not seem very wise from a constitutional point of view to involve the king in a matter that is going to cause political controversy,” Rees-Mogg has warned.

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The tangle has been further complicated by Buckingham Palace and Downing Street pointing fingers at each other. The king’s entourage has indicated that the invitation to the president of the European Commission has been made at the request of the prime minister’s office, while Sunak’s team insisted that the decision corresponds to the palace.

The rebellion of the Eurosceptics

Sunak will travel directly from Windsor to the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the House of Commons, where he will present the details of the pact to deputies. Shortly before, Downing Street will have finally published the text. The interventions requested during the debate will give an idea of ​​the intensity of the internal rebellion within the Conservative Party. The prime minister has been holding face-to-face meetings with many eurosceptics for two weeks to convince them that the agreement is a good solution to reduce tension in Northern Ireland, restore normality in that territory and put an end to the conflict with Brussels.

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The Chamber will be aware of politicians tories relevant, to see if they stand up from the bench, “to capture the attention of the president of the Chamber” (to catch the speaker’s eye), the way of expressing that you want to intervene in the debate, that is why the deputies do not stop sitting down and getting up.

The Labor opposition has already announced its willingness to support the agreement reached by the Government if it is finally put to a vote. Sunak promised to give Parliament a voice on the matter, but has not yet said whether the deputies will vote or not, as the eurosceptic sector claims. Technically not necessary. The agreement does not imply an alteration of the text of the Protocol of Ireland. They are concrete solutions to specific problems, but always – according to Brussels – within the margins imposed by the treaty.

The Northern Irish unionists of the DUP, whose support for the agreement many Eurosceptics demand before compromising theirs, have already announced that they will give themselves a period – of days, rather than hours – to study in detail an agreement that they do not know in its entirety, before to give a final opinion, and to confirm whether it is enough to end his blockade of Northern Ireland’s institutions.

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