UK PM splashes cold water on prospects of quick trade deal


British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Feb. 18 sought to dampen optimism about an imminent settlement in the dispute over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland that has brought political turmoil to the region and clouded relations with the European Union.

A recent flurry of meetings and diplomatic activity, including his own late-night dash to Belfast on Thursday night, has yet to yield an agreement, Sunak said during a question-and-answer session following his speech at a security conference in Munich.

British media outlets have speculated that the outlines of a settlement could be announced as soon as today.

“No, there isn’t a deal that has been done,” Sunak said. “There is an understanding of what needs to be done.”

The so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, which governs trade between the region and the Republic of Ireland, has been one of the most vexing issues facing the EU and Britain since the U.K. left the bloc more than two years ago.

Sunak met with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during Feb. 18’s Munich Security Conference as British and EU officials try to capitalize on a recent thaw in relations to resolve their differences.

Sunak’s office said the two leaders agreed that recent cooperation in the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should be extended to all aspects of the relationship between Britain and the EU.__Daily Hurriyet