Brexit: UK and EU announce agreement over new Northern Ireland deal



UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have announced an agreement over a new Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

After meeting in Windsor for final talks over a revised agreement, Sunak and von der Leyen confirmed they had agreed on a new "Windsor framework" to end uncertainty for Northern Ireland.

Speaking at a news conference following the talks, Sunak described the agreement as a "decisive breakthrough." He added: "These negotiations have not always been easy, but I'd like to pay an enormous personal tribute to Ursula for her vision in recognizing the possibility of a new way forward.

"Today's agreement is about preserving that delicate balance and charting a new way forward for the people of Northern Ireland."

Explaining the deal on Twitter, Sunak wrote: "Today's agreement delivers smooth flow of trade within the United Kingdom. We have removed any sense of a border in the Irish Sea.

"Food available on supermarket shelves in Great Britain, will be available in Northern Ireland – including sausages. Goods staying in the UK will use a new Green Lane with a separate Red Lane for goods moving to the EU. In the Green Lane, burdensome customs bureaucracy will be scrapped.

Sunak said the new agreement included no customs paperwork on sending parcels between friends, family and online orders that he claims "protects Northern Ireland's place in the Union."

It means any tax or excise changes made by Westminster will be replicated in Northern Ireland too.

"From now on, drugs approved for use by the UK's medicines regulator will be automatically available in every pharmacy and hospital in Northern Ireland," Sunak also announced.

The new deal will also allow the Stormont assembly to stop EU laws applying in the province, Sunak said.

"Many had called for Stormont to have a say over these laws. But the 'Stormont break' goes further and means that Stormont can in fact stop them from applying in Northern Ireland," the UK PM told a news conference.

"This will establish a clear process through which the democratically elected assembly can pull an emergency brake for changes to EU goods rules that would have significant and lasting effects on everyday lives. If the break is pulled, the UK government will have a veto."

At the same news conference involving both the UK and EU leaders on Monday, von der Leyen said the new deal will work for all. She added that the Windsor framework "respects and protects our respective markets."

"Today, we can take pride in the fact that we have delivered on that commitment.

"This new Framework will allow us to begin a new chapter. It provides for long-lasting solutions that both of us are confident will work for all people and businesses in Northern Ireland.

"Solutions that respond directly to the concerns they have raised."

Reacting to the news, Ireland's foreign minister Micheal Martin, who was Irish prime minister for much of the negotiations, said: "I heard first-hand the concerns of many unionists. I believe they will see in this a genuine response to their genuine concerns.

"I appreciate that some time may be needed to consider the detail of the deal, but I would urge political leaders in Northern Ireland to act quickly, to put in place institutions than can respond directly to the needs of the people of Northern Ireland."

Sunak said that UK parliament will get a vote on the new agreement "at the appropriate time."