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Starmer torn apart as he ‘wants to hand EU blank cheque’ on ‘deal he hasn’t even seen’ | UK | News

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has accused Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of trying to write a “blank cheque” to the EU in negotiations over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Sir Keir asked Mr Sunak to accept that Northern Ireland will have to follow at least some EU rules in the future.

In response, Mr Sunak said:“For [Mr Starmer] to talk about a deal he hasn’t even seen, that we’re still negoiating, that isn’t finalised … It’s his usual position when it comes to the European Union.

“It gives the EU a blank cheque and agrees to anything they offer. It’s not a strategy that’s surrender.”

Mr Sunak also hit out at Sir Keir for his involvement in the people’s vote campaign while Brexit negotiations were ongoing in 2019.

The Prime Minister said: “On these questions, [he] said he would respect the result of the referendum, and then he promised to back a second one.

“All the while, he was constantly voting to frustrate Brexit. And I know what the British people know: On this question he can’t be trusted to stick up for Britain.”

As Tory backbenchers cheered, Mr Starmer hit back: “Mr Speaker, the sound you hear is them cheering the Prime Minister pulling the wool over their eyes.”

The Northern Ireland protocol was agreed by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government in 2019, enabling his Brexit deal to be passed.

But after this, his government, and subsequent governments, have tried to change the deal.

The protocol keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs union, essentially putting a border down the Irish sea. Unionists don’t want Northern Ireland to be under different arrangements to the rest of the UK.

But the EU and UK must also ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland, as preserved by the Good Friday Agreement, which helped deliver peace.

A senior Tory MP and Brexiteer, Sir Bernard Jenkin, has warned Mr Sunak is not close to securing a deal with the EU.

Asked by Sky News how close a deal is, he said: “I fear not very close, because what’s been happening is the government has been strenuously trying to reach an agreement, but within very narrow confines.

“The EU has said they won’t consider reopening their mandate to look at new ways of approaching the whole question of Northern Ireland post-Brexit, and the consequence is that the negotiations have been on a very narrow mandate set by the EU and it doesn’t look as though the government can resolve the powersharing crisis with any deal that will emerge from these negotiations.”

The powersharing crisis relates to the ongoing protest by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Belfast of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

*This story has not been edited by The Infallible staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.