Boris Johnson fears NI deal could be too much compromise

Brexit ‘will take longer to bring big benefits’ says Davis

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Boris Johnson fears Rishi Sunak’s Government is ready to give too much away in a deal to solve the problems in Northern Ireland, according to insiders. The Government is currently in talks with the European Union to iron out issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has been causing delays, supermarket shortages and increased costs for businesses.

Sources close to the Prime Minister said Mr Johnson is “deeply concerned” the Government will strike a compromise with the EU over the protocol which gives a role to European judges.

Insiders told the Daily Mail he fears the European Court of Justice may end up as the final arbiter of EU laws that apply within Northern Ireland, in an attempt to bring an end to the dispute.

This comes as the Government steps up its efforts to resolve issues with the protocol, which have been ongoing since October 2021.

The draft deal will reportedly include a layer of protection to prevent the European Commission from directly referring disputes to the European Court of Justice.

But many Tory MPs want the ECJ to have no role whatsoever in policing the deal.

European Research Group chair David Jones said Mr Johnson could speak out on the issue, telling the Mail that the “views of any former PM on such an issue are important”.

Yesterday, a Government spokesman said: “As we’ve said repeatedly, any solution on the Protocol must address the range of issues including governance and the democratic deficit on how new EU laws apply in NI.”

While little tangible progress has been made to address the issues in Northern Ireland, figures in the EU appear to be softening their stance on the issue.

Two days ago, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar admitted he had regrets over the protocol being imposed in Northern Ireland without the support of unionists and nationalists.

He told the BBC the measure was working but said he understood why unionists felt it had “weakened the union”.

Asked whether anything could have been done differently during the protocol talks, Mr Varadkar said his main regret was that the measure had been “imposed on Northern Ireland without the support of both communities”.

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He added: “In the same way Brexit was imposed on Northern Ireland without the support of both communities, the protocol was imposed on Northern Ireland without the support of two communities”.

But Mr Varadkar said the protocol was working economically and that the absence of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic was proof of this.

There has been a continuing stalemate in Northern Ireland since the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) withdrew from the institution in protest against the Protocol.

There has been no functioning devolved government at Stormont since February 2022, with the DUP demanding fundamental change to the protocol before it considers a return to the assembly.

Mr Varadkar said he hoped a resolution could be reached “sooner rather than later”, describing UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as someone he believed would “go about doing business and getting things done”.

He added: “The possibility of an agreement in the next couple of months is very real and, with reasonableness and flexibility on both sides, it can be achieved.”

Responding to the comments, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said: “The Northern Ireland Protocol has never had the support of unionists and never will enjoy unionist support. It was imposed against the will of unionists.

“Whilst the Taoiseach’s comments are welcome, rather than focus on the past, London, Dublin and Brussels must now redouble their efforts on replacing the protocol with arrangements that unionists can support.”

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