Britain’s relationship with the EU is recovering from a “very low point” of “no trust” during the Boris Johnson era, according to Germany’s ambassador to the UK.
Miguel Berger praised British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for developing a “relationship of trust” with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, adding: “This is something we can build on.”
Berger said the EU now has “full confidence” that the UK will implement what has been agreed on Brexit matters, in contrast to experiences with Johnson when he was prime minister.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a press conference at Windsor Guildhall following the announcement that they had reached an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol (Dan Kitwood/ PA)
On Wednesday, MPs will be asked to approve regulations to introduce the Stormont brake section of the Windsor framework.
Downing Street believes the move, which potentially gives the UK a veto over the imposition of new EU rules on Northern Ireland, was the “most significant part” of the deal.
It represents the first test of the House of Commons for the agreement of Mr. Sunak with the EU and could face a rebellion from the Conservative backbench.
The Windsor framework as a whole aims to reduce the volume of Brexit red tape on the movement of goods from GB to Northern Ireland that was created by the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Berger told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I think it’s a very good compromise that has been quietly worked out for four months between the European Commission and the British government.
“It preserves the Good Friday Agreement, it preserves east-west trade, it means the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland can remain open, so I think it achieves all the main objectives.
“What I hear very often from employers in Northern Ireland is that what they need is predictability and stability and I think the Windsor framework can deliver that.
Berger added: “We understand the sensitivities of the DUP and other unionists, but at the same time I think we need a commitment that allows us to have the necessary confidence in the agreement, and I think that has been achieved.
“We are very confident that not only will there be an overwhelming majority in the House of Commons, but that this is a deal we can build on to strengthen the relationship between the UK and the European Union.
Berger added: “We have full confidence that the British government will actually implement what was agreed and, as we know, that was not the case with Boris Johnson.”
Asked to describe the relationship with the former prime minister, Johnson said: “I would say the relationship was really at a very low point, there was no confidence that the things agreed would be implemented and this is absolutely different now
“I think we can look for a better future in the relationship.”
The so-called Stormont brake mechanism allows a minority of Stormont staff to formally raise concerns about the imposition of new EU laws in Northern Ireland.
The process could ultimately lead to the UK government vetoing its introduction.
Details of how the brake will work are to be outlined in secondary legislation, which the government has said will be published on Monday.
The DUP, which collapsed power-sharing in Northern Ireland in protest at the protocol, has said the Windsor framework fails to address some “fundamental problems” created by existing arrangements.
Cabinet Office minister Oliver Dowden told Sky News: “I’m sure the vote will be successful and it will go through, and I hope we’ll do it with the support of the DUP, but ultimately that’s up to them.”
Labor will vote for the regulations on Wednesday and shadow communities secretary Lisa Nandy told the same programme: “I think it is a step forward and we will support a step forward.
“Rishi Sunak is ready to go and start cleaning up some of his own mess, we’re certainly not going to criticize him for that and there’s no question that this is something that’s urgent now, it’s incredibly important and he’s trying to clear some of it up. that friction, some of those barriers on the island of Ireland has long been our priority.”
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