UK and EU will hold new N Ireland protocol talks once progress is made on data

Rishi Sunak’s bid to “get” Brexit done is facing a critical week, with key negotiations over the settlement of a dispute over Northern Ireland’s trade relations and a Conservative Party uprising. on proposing EU law.

On Monday, James Cleverly, the UK foreign secretary, will hold talks with Maroš Šefčovič, vice president of the European Commission, to clear the way for an agreement in the first quarter of 2023 on the so-called protocol. Northern Ireland, governs the trading arrangement area.

Last week, both sides secured an expected breakthrough with an agreement allowing the EU to share “real-time” UK data on trade flows across the Irish Sea from the UK to Northern Ireland.

The follow-up talks by Cleverly and Šefčovič, via video link, aim to discover whether there is enough common ground to allow the next phase of in-depth and confidential discussions to take place in the so-called “tunnels” ” or not.

The Northern Ireland Protocol, part of Boris Johnson’s 2019 Brexit deal, created a border for intra-UK trade from the UK to Northern Ireland, which remains part of the goods market. EU common. However, the Democratic Unionist party, the largest pro-UK political force in the region, withdrew from the power-sharing government because of its opposition to the protocol.

UK and EU officials tried to downplay the chances of success on Monday. “It’s a scenario, but I don’t specifically bet money on it,” said a British official.

EU diplomats described the talks as “trust-building”, with both sides eyeing the possibility of a resolution before the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in April. ending decades of conflict in Northern Ireland.

Much depends on whether Sunak feels able take on Eurosceptics within its own party with a compromise deal and whether the EU can show more flexibility in its stance.

Meanwhile, Sunak’s plan for an automatic purge of “retained EU law”” on Britain’s statute book for late 2023 is facing renewed criticism from senior Conservative MPs who want parliament to have more say in the process.

The Retained EU Law Bill, which has a final Commons reporting period on Wednesday, has a ‘sunset clause’ that removes all EU law that has not been specifically reviewed and retained by ministers.

David Davis, former Brexit secretary, Sir Robert Buckland, former justice secretary and Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons justice committee, have backed a move to give parliament more say in the process.

Stella Creasy, the Labor MP behind the bill amendment, hopes many Conservative MPs will also support it; The idea of ​​giving parliament a greater voice has been opposed by the government in the past, setting up a fight in the Commons.

Creasy, president of the Labor Movement for Europe, said: “If Brexit is about taking back control, it’s not about taking control back from parliament and handing it over to Number 10.”

The amendment would require the government to publish a complete list of all laws to be revoked at least three months before the expiration date. Congress can then pass a resolution to amend the list.

Ministers were unable to say exactly how many “EU laws are retained” in the regulation book; many of them address issues such as consumer rights and environmental protection.

Last year, the Financial Times revealed that the National Archives had discovered 1,400 more measuresabove 2,400 previously identified.

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