Rishi Sunak steps up sales pitch by insisting NI is in a ‘special position’ & says Brexit deal will go ahead WITHOUT DUP

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak holds a Q&A session with local business leaders during a visit to Coca-Cola HBC in Lisburn, Co Antrim in Northern Ireland on February 28, 2023. - Britain and the European Union proclaimed a "new chapter" in relations after years of Brexit tensions as they agreed on a sweeping overhaul of trade rules in Northern Ireland. (Photo by Liam McBurney / POOL / AFP) (Photo by LIAM MCBURNEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

RISHI Sunak ramped up his Brexit deal charm offensive today, vowing to push through with the Windsor Framework whether unionists like it or not.

Visiting local business leaders at a Coca Cola factory in Northern Ireland, the PM insisted his fresh agreement made the province “the world’s most exciting economic zone”.

Rishi Sunak held a Q&A session with local business leaders during a visit to Northern Ireland, where he is attempting to sell the government’s new Brexit deal

He said: “Northern Ireland is in an unbelievably special position in having privileged access, not just to the UK home market, which is enormous… but also the European Union single market.

“Nobody else has that. No one. Only you guys, only here, and that is the prize.

“I can tell you, when I go around the world and talk to businesses, they know that.”

Mr Sunak urged politicians to get back to Stormont so the full benefits of the Windsor Framework can be recognised.

He said DUP concerns with the old Protocol were valid – but most issues have been resolved so now it’s time for power sharing to resume.

“The framework is a fantastic agreement that delivers on all the things people care about,” the PM said.

“So now I hope that they do see it and see that and they can find a way to come back together.”

On Monday Mr Sunak and EU boss Ursula von der Leyen shook hands on the historic Windsor Framework to end the so-called “sausage wars” that saw two years of border chaos over goods and trade.

EU red tape that hampered meats, sarnies, parcels and even seed potatoes being exported from mainland Britain have been abolished in a major win for the UK.

Ministers hailed the remarkable feat of ripping up the Northern Ireland Protocol — but Unionists and hardline Tory Brexiteers were this morning poring over the small print before passing judgement.

Unionist MPs say they will only resume power sharing in Stormont if they give the deal a thumbs up.

DUP chief Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told BBC Radio 4 this morning: “There remain some issues where we continue to engage with the government, and we will take our time.

“As the Prime Minister said, this is a very complex agreement and we need to understand it. We only received the legal text yesterday afternoon so we’re going to take time to study the it, to get legal advice on it, and then we’ll come to a conclusion on the agreement as a whole.”

How the DUP ultimately respond will influence the views of a significant number of Tory backbenchers too.

But Mr Sunak is determined to push through with the deal regardless of their verdict.

Today the PM told members of the public they deserve to see their elected representatives sitting in the Assembly and working to improve lives in the area.

And yesterday he hailed a “decisive breakthrough”, unveiling the new “Stormont Brake” that will allow the UK to thwart new EU laws if they are not backed by all communities in Northern Ireland.

“What we’ve done is empower the Assembly even more with this new Stormont brake,” Mr Sunak said.

“There’s even more incentive to get back in. We’ve put more power in the hands of Stormont, in those very people. But they need to get back in, they need to get put back in so they can use those powers.”