Sunak defended, in statements to BBC Radio 4, the advantages of the changes agreed with Brussels, which “ensure”, he said, the place of the British province within the United Kingdom, by eliminating the customs controls imposed by the initial protocol on goods from Great Britain.
In addition, the revised text grants the Northern Irish Autonomous Assembly the power to stop any upcoming community legislation that it considers to be in violation of regional interests.
British product controls
The “Tory” leader explained that checks will now only be carried out on British products destined for Northern Ireland in case of suspicion of smuggling, while full checks will be maintained for those going to the Republic of Ireland, which continues to be part of the EU and the single community market.
Asked by the presenter, Sunak declined to apologize for having himself supported the previous controversial protocol negotiated by the Boris Johnson government, with whom he admitted having recently spoken.
Johnson, who before resigning promoted a law (today withdrawn) to annul it unilaterally if Brussels did not agree to renegotiate it, has not yet expressed an opinion on the changes achieved by Sunak, whose resignation last July marked the end of his term.
At another point in the interview, the current head of government acknowledged that, even with the revised protocol, “3%” of European legislation remains in Northern Ireland.
This, which upsets the pro-British unionist community, is necessary, he said, to “maintain the delicate balance” of the province still being included in the EU market for goods in order to avoid having to erect a physical border on the island of Ireland, which would violate the 1998 peace agreement.
On the other hand, Sunak indicated that the new agreement will continue its way in Parliament regardless of whether it is approved or not by the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which until now has boycotted the autonomous government institutions in protest of the rule.
“This is not about me or any political party, it is about what is best for the people of Northern Ireland… This deal will be beneficial to all of them,” the Prime Minister said.
If the DUP accepts the revised Protocol and agrees to govern with the nationalist Sinn Féin, who won the elections last May, the possibility opens for US President Joe Biden to pay a 25th anniversary visit on 10 April of the Good Friday peace agreement.
In a statement issued last night, Biden declared that the pact announced Monday by Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is “an essential step to ensure that hard-won peace and progress are preserved and strengthened.” in the Belfast/Good Friday agreement”, and hoped that the Northern Irish institutions would be restored “soon”.