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UK and EU try to draw a line under Brexit grudges

It felt like a vow renewal. Seven years after the broken Brexit vote and subsequent freeze in relations, he said the British Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission stood side by side at the Windsor Guildhall and pledged to work together amicably.

At a 17th-century wedding venue chosen by Prince Charles and Camilla, as well as Sir Elton John and Sir David Furnish, British Prime Minister Rishisnakk said at a press conference that Britain and the EU are “allies, trading partners and friends.” ” he declared. ”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the UK and the EU were “close partners, now and in the future”. The “Windsor Framework” they agreed on was a dense text on a post-Brexit overhaul of trade rules in Northern Ireland, but its importance was far greater.

For Sunak and von der Leyen, this was the next moment. Reset UK-EU relationsBoth countries see real merit in ending the hatred that has ravaged bilateral relations since the 2016 referendum, especially at a time when war is raging on the continent.

Outside the Guildhall, Eurosceptic Conservative MPs and Ulster trade unionist politicians evaluated the deal, saying Mr Sunak said the time was now for compromise with the EU rather than further confrontation. I know you have a big job at home to convince your critics that there is.

Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recently advocated a more belligerent approach to the EU and still has his supporters. But Sunak’s supporters said the majority of Tory MPs “just want to get this done”.

As one EU diplomat put it:

“This opens up the prospect of a broader normalization of EU-UK relations, which is very timely given the world situation.”

The UK and the EU are already working together on sanctions over Russia’s large-scale aggression in Ukraine.

But Snak’s Brexit deal with the EU over the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol opens up the prospect of tangible economic gains for the UK. That is a clear priority for the prime minister, who grapples with the cost of living crisis ahead of general elections expected next year.

Given the looming recession, the risk of EU trade retaliation would be removed if the Sunak government were to move ahead with legislation that would unilaterally rewrite the Protocol with the UK in plenty of time.

A further bonus is the proposal for the UK to rejoin the EU’s €95bn. Horizon Science ProgramThis is a move that will benefit both UK researchers and those within the bloc.

Joël Reland, a UK research associate at a transforming European think tank, says a wider range of outcomes can be expected if both sides agree. These include deeper cooperation on energy policy and the possibility that the UK and he will extend the grace period during which the EU allows tariff-free trade in electric vehicles.

“This is a very important moment,” said Reland. “For the first time since 2016, the UK government is prioritizing the economic impact of Brexit over politics . . . unlocking opportunities to strengthen deals elsewhere.”

A more ambitious agenda, some of which probably goes beyond the Sunak government’s desires, could involve efforts to ease restrictions on the movement of workers across borders.

Other potential options on the menu are the mutual recognition of EU and UK safety and quality assurance marks and professional qualifications, as well as the establishment of veterinary contracts to facilitate border inspections of food.

Labor has already said it plans to pursue some of these options if it wins the election. Labor Party leader Sir Kea Sturmer has fully backed his Sunak deal with the EU.

“Frankly, any step in this direction would be an improvement on what we got,” Sturmer said. “We can confidently say that we stand by the deal.”

A more immediate benefit is opening the door to improved Anglo-American relations.

US President Joe Biden has been pressuring the UK to reach an agreement with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol since taking office in 2021. The deal should pave the way for the restoration of Northern Ireland’s devolved government.

“I commend the UK and EU leaders for reaching this important deal. rice field.

The deal increases Biden’s chances of attending an event in Belfast in April to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday pact that ended decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.

It also has the potential to facilitate the work of Northern Ireland’s special economic envoy, Joe Kennedy III, to promote US investment in the region.

Snack postponed a parliamentary vote on the Brexit deal for now to give MPs “time and space” to digest the Windsor framework. The Eurosceptic Tories will take the lead from Northern Ireland’s ally, the Democratic Unionist Party. The Democratic Unionist Party overthrew the region’s government last year in protest against the protocol.

But Sunak’s hopes of a Eurosceptic senior Conservative MP to sell the deal were boosted. Jacob Rhys-Mogg The British prime minister said he had “done very well” in negotiations with Brussels.

Meanwhile, Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker, a former self-described “Brexit hardliner”, shrugged off suggestions that he might leave Sunak’s government. The prime minister is looking to secure a very big deal for everyone involved. ”

Sunak’s deal faces two major challenges. The first involves his 12 party officers in the DUP. study of law Before deciding whether the party should stop boycotting the rally in Stormont.

The second test focuses on a European study group of Conservative MPs who support Brexit, gathering a “star chamber” of lawyers to peruse the text before deciding how to respond.

The problem may still be offshore. But pro-European Tories insist the ERG is no longer the powerful force it once was, and Tory lawmakers who attended the group’s meeting last week said he had fewer than 30 members and discussed the Sunak deal. rice field.

“Rishi will probably have an advantage in fighting them. It will prove he is not weak,” said the former Conservative minister.

Another former minister added: Rishi has at least done more than Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and David Cameron combined. ”

https://www.ft.com/content/311c940e-8938-43ac-a154-5ff99a7bbc7e UK and EU try to draw a line under Brexit grudges

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