Monday evening news briefing: Why Sunak’s deal needs DUP support

·7 min read
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Good evening. Rishi Sunak has agreed a breakthrough deal with Ursula von der Leyen to improve post-Brexit border arrangements in Northern Ireland. However, in this newsletter, our Europe editor explains why the deal will ultimately fail if the Prime Minister pushes ahead without DUP support.

Evening briefing: Today's essential headlines

Betty Boothroyd | The first female Speaker of the House of Commons, Betty Boothroyd, has died at the age of 93. The crossbench peer, who broke 700 years of tradition when she was elected as Speaker in the spring of 1992, died at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge on Sunday.

The big story: Rishi Sunak hails deal as 'turning point'

It has been a long time in the making, but today, a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol was finalised at a lunchtime meeting in Windsor between the Prime Minister and Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission.

Rishi Sunak said the new Brexit deal between the UK and the EU represented a "turning point" and a "decisive breakthrough". The Prime Minister said the new agreement, dubbed the "Windsor Framework", will smooth trade within the UK, protect Northern Ireland's place in the Union and also "safeguard sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland".

Mr Sunak confirmed at a press conference this afternoon that MPs will be given a binding vote on the deal in the coming weeks.

Now the agreement has been finalised, Mr Sunak will turn his attention to trying to win the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Tory Brexiteers.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the DUP, said "significant progress" had been made in the deal, but added that there "remain key issues of concern".

The former leader of the DUP, Arlene Foster, writes that one key area of small print will be critical to whether the DUP accepts the deal.

Our Europe editor James Crisp writes that the new deal will be a failure if it does not get Stormont up and running again.

The Prime Minister faces an uphill struggle to win the support of the DUP – so what happens if he doesn’t get it?

Sir Jeffrey cannot prevent Mr Sunak from sealing the UK-EU deal. But he can continue to block a new Northern Ireland Assembly, which has been mothballed for a year despite Stormont elections being held in May.

That is tricky for Mr Sunak because some influential Brexiteer backbenchers claim their support in a potential vote on the deal will hang on the DUP’s response. And it could force the Prime Minister, who has a mandate from neither Tory party members nor the country, to rely on Labour support.

Failure to get the DUP back into devolved government will be embarrassing after Britain said the new deal was needed to protect the Good Friday Agreement, which was struck 25 years ago this April.

If Mr Sunak’s deal cannot restore a centrepiece of the peace process, it has failed in one of its key aims ahead of the anniversary celebrations. And that would end hopes of a visit from Joe Biden - find out what more it could mean by reading the full article here.

The Brexiteers set to challenge Rishi Sunak

The deal comes fraught with risks for the Prime Minister, with Tory MPs warning they will revolt if European judges retain a say over Northern Ireland, our political correspondent Amy Gibbons reports.

Hours before Mr Sunak and Ms Von der Leyen announced their meeting, a member of the Eurosceptic wing of the Prime Minister's party warned that Parliament should not be rushed into accepting a deal. "Trying to bounce Parliament usually ends badly," said Mark Francois, chairman of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs.

He said the issue was about "whose law was sovereign in Northern Ireland". Here, we detail the six Brexiteers who could be set to challenge Mr Sunak.

Von der Leyen's tea with the King

Buckingham Palace confirmed that the King would meet Ms von der Leyen for tea at Windsor Castle on Monday afternoon. A palace spokesman said: “The King is pleased to meet any world leader if they are visiting Britain, and it is the Government’s advice that he should do so.”

However, palace sources stressed that the King’s involvement would not be political, that he would not be involved in negotiations and that he always remained mindful of constitutional responsibilities.

Our royal editor Victoria Ward has more on this story here.

Comment and analysis

World news: Thunberg protests against wind turbines

Greta Thunberg has been taking part in a five-day demonstration blocking the entrance to Norway's energy ministry to protest against wind turbines. Ms Thunberg was specifically campaigning against wind turbines built on land traditionally used by indigenous Sami reindeer herders. Norway's supreme court ruled in 2021 that two wind farms built in central Norway violated Sami rights under international conventions, but the turbines remain in operation more than 16 months later.

Interview of the day

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Read the interview

Sport news: Potter faces ‘make or break’ games

The message from Chelsea's owners remains one of wanting to provide support and backing, writes Matt Law, and yet the growing feeling at Stamford Bridge is that the next two games will ultimately be make or break for head coach Graham Potter. Chelsea’s poor form is not just testing the faith of the owners, with senior players also said to be concerned over whether or not Potter can turn the situation around and anger among those who are having to be left out of the matchday squad.

Editor's choice

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Farming | ‘Jeremy Clarkson is right – badgers in the UK are over protected’

Business news: Lidl rations fruit and vegetables

Lidl has become the latest supermarket to introduce rationing on the amount of fruit and vegetables customers can buy in the wake of poor harvests in Europe and North Africa. The discount retailer has joined Tesco, Asda, Aldi and Morrisons in limiting purchases on items such as tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers.

Tonight starts now

Why you should look out for the Northern Lights | In a rare occurrence, the phenomenon has been seen in the south of England, and is expected to be visible in parts of the UK again tonight.

Three things for you

And finally... for this evening's downtime

A guide to the most genteel cruise line at sea | Everything you need to know about Cunard, the luxury cruise line that harks back to a bygone age - including three classic voyages for 2023.

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