Dominic Raab has said that the UK can expect “good news” on talks between the UK and the EU “in a matter of days, not weeks” as speculation grows that a deal has been struck.
Appearing on Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary said “real progress” had been made but ministers wanted to “make sure all the pieces are in place”.
He said: “There’ll be good news in a matter of days, not weeks. This will be critically important. It’ll be a major achievement by this prime minister and all those involved, but also we mark and pay tribute to the efforts of those that went before.
“If we can get this resolved for the people of Northern Ireland, for the businesses, for the communities, and, frankly, the manifesto pledge we made really to thoroughly properly fully get Brexit done, it’ll be a major achievement.”
Mr Raab suggested that the deal could contain a system of different customs routes described as “green lanes” and “red lanes” for goods heading from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and those destined for the Irish republic.
“Those are the kinds of things that we’ve been pushing for and again, encouraging the EU to look at market surveillance,” he explained.
Rishi Sunak told The Sunday Times he is “giving it everything” in a bid to secure a new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, and that he wants “to get the job done”
He said he wanted to resolve the concerns of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) over the European Union retaining influence over Northern Ireland, claiming that “the idea that the EU can impose laws on Northern Ireland without them having any say isn’t acceptable”.
“It’s about the people and communities of Northern Ireland. It’s about what’s best for them and that’s what everyone should have in the uppermost of their minds,” he continued.
Mr Raab did not share any more details on Sunday on what the deal could contain, but did state that if the government can “scale back some of the regulatory checks that apply” it would involve a “significant scaling back of the role of the European Court of Justice”.
“We always say there’s no deal until you’ve got the whole deal, so I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” he added.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is reportedly close to agreeing on a deal with the EU that will rework parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol that Boris Johnson agreed to while negotiating on Brexit, and then later attempted to override.
There has been growing speculation that the deal could come on Monday, following reports that Ursula von der Leyen, the European commission president, had initially been scheduled to meet King Charles on Saturday.
MPs have been put on a three-line whip on Monday, meaning they must attend Parliament, which has led some to believe the deal could be announced to the Commons then.
Mr Raab did not confirm on Sunday if MPs would be given a vote on the new deal, stating only that the Commons will have an opportunity to “express itself”.
Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that Labour is likely to back the deal should it be voted on.
“We have indicated that we expect to support the deal when it emerges in the next few days,” he said.
He added that the deal would be “an improvement” on the deal struck by Mr Johnson and “deal with the issues of goods and services” moving between the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.