With the agreement in the Northern Ireland dispute, Great Britain and the EU have achieved what is probably the best possible compromise. It is questionable whether this will also ensure peace in the long term.
Friends? allies? You almost couldn’t believe your ears.
Such words would probably never have occurred to Sunak’s predecessors, the radical Brexit supporters Boris Johnson and Liz Truss. However, with von der Leyen he succeeded in what many had no longer thought possible: a deal intended to end the dispute over the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. Read more about the details here.
It is an agreement that both sides can be satisfied with. The so-called “Windsor Framework” could be the first step in finally leaving the Brexit chaos behind. But whether the agreement lasts now depends primarily on Sunak’s powers of persuasion – both within his party and in Northern Ireland.
No risk for Brussels
The EU and von der Leyen are not taking any major risks with the new regulations: the past few years have shown that the UK has suffered considerable damage both economically and politically by leaving the EU. The Brexit misery has shown even the biggest EU skeptics such as Hungary’s Viktor Orbán that leaving the EU will bring significantly more disadvantages than advantages. The timing to shake hands with the British was opportune. Nobody fears imitators in the EU anymore.
For the British head of government, the Northern Ireland deal means a return to reason-driven EU policy: Sunak’s predecessors Truss or Johnson wanted to unilaterally ignore the previously applicable Northern Ireland regulations. This led to years of political confusion that voters increasingly disapproved of. As small as the chance may be that the British will forgive the Conservative party for this odyssey in the next general election, the new course is Sunak’s only chance to placate voters.
What is Johnson doing?
On this path, however, Sunak now faces the most difficult task. In the coming days and weeks he has to prove his negotiating skills again, especially in Northern Ireland, where the local unionist party DUP has to approve the deal.
And then there’s Sunak’s predecessor: Boris Johnson. The most important Brexit supporter has not yet spoken. But the fact is: he could use the agreement as a through ball to create a mood within the Tory party against Sunak. The former prime minister is said to still have ambitions to return to the post. In addition, among hardliners, Sunak is still considered to be primarily responsible for the fall of Johnson last year.
So far, Brexit supporters have been reluctant to criticize the Northern Ireland deal. Should Johnson now call for an attack, the tide could quickly turn for Sunak. The Tories shouldn’t fall for it. It would bring her further ruin.