Brexit: UK and EU strike deal on Northern Ireland protocol

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LONDON — The U.K. and the EU have reached a deal on the Northern Ireland protocol after months of talks over the contentious post-Brexit trading arrangements.

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held final talks with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Monday and the pair are expected to detail the agreement at a press conference in Windsor at around 3.30 p.m. U.K. time.

Sunak — under pressure to hold a House of Commons vote on the agreement — will make a statement to MPs at around 6.30 p.m. GMT. He now faces the task of selling the deal to Brexiteer MPs on his own Conservative benches, many of whom will be closely watching the verdict of Northern Ireland’s fiercely anti-protocol Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and poring over the role of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the agreement.

The protocol has been a long-running source of tension between the U.K. and the EU, and the two sides have been locked in months of talks to try to ease the way it works.

Under the protocol, the EU requires checks on trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in order to preserve the integrity of its single market, while avoiding such checks taking place at the sensitive land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The DUP has been boycotting the region’s power-sharing government while it pushes for major changes to a set-up it sees as driving a wedge between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.

Pro-Brexit Conservative MPs have been pushing for a House of Commons vote, and the government has said parliament will be able to “express its view” on the deal. Sunak has been offered the backing of the Labour Party for any vote — although an outcome that sees him rely on opposition support would be politically toxic for the U.K. prime minister.

This developing story is being updated.