RISHI Sunak will hold face-to-face talks in the UK with the European Commission president as he looks to finalise a deal to fix issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol amid Tory discontent.

In a joint statement on Sunday from Downing Street and the European Commission, they confirmed the Prime Minister and Ursula von der Leyen would meet to discuss the “range of complex challenges around” the Brexit treaty.

It comes after speculation mounted that a deal could be announced imminently, with Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab saying Britain and the European Union were on the “cusp” of striking an agreement.

In the joint statement issued by Downing Street, the pair said: “Today, president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Rishi Sunak, agreed to continue their work in person towards shared, practical solutions for the range of complex challenges around the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“President von der Leyen will therefore meet with the Prime Minister in the UK tomorrow [Monday]”.

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Speculation has been rife for the past week that the UK and the EU are about to announce a plan designed to solve trade frictions caused by the protocol.

Von der Leyen had been due to travel to Britain on Saturday to hold talks with Sunak, as well as meet the King at Windsor Castle, but the plans were scrapped.

Sammy Wilson, a DUP MP, said any Windsor rendezvous with the EU leader would have been “a cynical use” of the King’s position and seen in Unionist circles as the sovereign endorsing the deal.

He branded the Prime Minister “naive” and accused him of “dragging the King into a hugely controversial political issue”.

The National:

The latest announcement opens the door for a potential unveiling of fresh protocol terms during the German politician’s visit on Monday.

Speaking to The Sunday Times on Saturday, Sunak said he planned to work all weekend to nail down revised terms as he looks to keep hardline Conservative Brexiteers and the Democratic Unionist Party on side.

He told the newspaper he was “giving it everything we’ve got” to finalise a fix for the protocol, a Brexit treaty negotiated by former prime minister Boris Johnson.

The protocol, signed by Mr Johnson in 2020, was designed to prevent a hard border with Ireland after Brexit, with Northern Ireland continuing to follow EU rules on goods to prevent checks being needed when crossing into the Republic.

But the trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain created by the treaty has created Unionist tension, with Mr Sunak admitting that it had “unbalanced” the Good Friday Agreement that helped end the Troubles bloodshed in the province.

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But the treaty has incensed unionists due to the trade barriers it created between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

According to The Times, the current offer on the table would mean an overhauled protocol, which would remove almost all checks and most paperwork on goods crossing the Irish Sea.

Any announcement of a deal is expected to set up a possible clash with Brexit hardliners, with the Prime Minister promising MPs will be given the chance to “express” their views on the new terms.

The DUP has issued seven tests to win its backing for any deal, including addressing what it calls the “democratic deficit” of Northern Ireland being subject to EU rules while not having a say on them.

The Daily Telegraph, which said a breakthrough could come over the weekend, said it was understood the DUP is set to be granted a place at the negotiating table when the EU is considering new laws applicable in Northern Ireland.