Rishi Sunak said he was “pleased with the progress” made on a Brexit row with the EU after meeting with the Irish Taoiseach today.
The Prime Minister struck an upbeat tone as he hailed the close relations between the UK and Ireland.
Speaking after his meeting with Michael Martin, the Prime Minister said: “I think we all recognise that the Protocol is having a real impact on the ground, on families, on businesses in Northern Ireland, threatening Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom. And I want to resolve that.
“I’m deeply committed to the Belfast Good Friday Agreement. I want to see the institutions back up and running in Northern Ireland because that’s what the people in Northern Ireland need and deserve.
“I discussed this with the Taoiseach, we had a very positive meeting.
“And what I want to do is find a negotiated solution preferably, and I’m pleased with the progress that we’re making in these early days in this job, and my focus is to try and find a resolution here, get the institutions back up and running.
“That’s how we’re going to deliver for the people in Northern Ireland.”
His remarks have sparked hope that a deal on the frictions caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol is close.
The international agreement, which was introduced as part of the 2019 withdrawal agreement, allows the EU to impose bureaucratic customs checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea from Britain to Northern Ireland.
Brussels claimed the provisions were required to ensure that British goods did not enter the EU’s single market while also avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.
However, Unionists argue the deal undermines Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom with some goods sold on the mainland unavailable in shops in the province.
Mr Sunak said he was “confident” that with “goodwill and pragmatism” a solution can be found to the protocol issues.
“We need to find a practical resolution to some of the challenges that families and businesses are facing on the ground,” he said.
“We need to protect Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom.
“And that will require everyone to enter into these talks with a spirit of goodwill and pragmatism.
“I’m confident if we can do that, working together, we can find a way through.”
More to follow…