Andrew Marr: This Brexit deal is a big moment for the UK - and Rishi Sunak's premiership

27 February 2023, 18:09 | Updated: 27 February 2023, 18:14

Andrew Marr says PM's premiership will 'never be the same' after deal

By Will Taylor

Monday is a big day for the UK and Rishi Sunak, Andrew Marr has declared.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

"Big Day. Big day for the prime minister. Big day for Northern Ireland. And a big day for the whole UK," he said after Mr Sunak and EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen unveiled their Windsor Framework, which revamped the Northern Ireland protocol.

Speaking at the top of Tonight with Andrew Marr, LBC's host said: "Rishi Sunak has rolled the dice, he's split the pack, and his Premiership will never be the same again.

"By taking on right wingers and unionists who think that any deal with the European Union, almost by definition must be a sell-out, he is risking everything.

"If this works, he will have defined himself as the dealmaker, the compromiser and he'll be able to lead the country and the party in a different way from now on. If it doesn't work - by which I mean if we see violence in Northern Ireland, no return of the Assembly, or defeat in Parliament by Tory rebels, then this might be close to the end of his premiership. I don't think that's going to happen.

"But he's half-way through what is genuinely becoming a political thriller.

"Sunak understands what a big moment this is, which is why he has roped in The King to welcome Ursula von der Leyen the EU president.

Read more: Watch Tonight with Andrew Marr exclusively on Global Player every Monday to Thursday from 6pm to 7pm

"Big stage. Big national symbols. Some people think that using the monarchy in this way is unconstitutional hoopla. Maybe you do. I don't, though I was amused by how often and with what relish von der Leyen said the words 'Windsor Framework'. Also, did you think by any chance that the two leaders might have choreographed what they said?

"Any rate Sunak has shown that he can get a deal with the EU that his predecessors such as Boris Johnson and Liz Truss couldn't.

"Because make no mistake. Being able to get rid of the vast majority of checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, with no new border on the island of Ireland, and reducing radically the role of the European Court in the future through a so-called Stormont brake... is a great success for British negotiation.

"I was speaking to one prominent Brexiteer who used to sit in the cabinet and he said to me, "frankly Andrew if we had been offered this 3 years ago we'd have given our right arms for it".

You can also listen to the podcast Tonight with Andrew Marr only on Global Player.

"Going forward, it goes ahead, it ought to make it easier for us to do a deal with the French over the small boats migration in the Channel, and to smooth trade more generally.

"If it goes ahead, of course, we still don't know, really, what the Democratic Unionist Party, the DUP will say. Perfectly reasonably, they are waiting to pore over the fine details.

"But note this: Northern Ireland defence against new EU rules is the Stormont brake, which requires 30 members of the assembly or more to vote. And that, of course, can't happen unless the thing is sitting in the first place – could there be a stronger incentive to push the DUP back into a power-sharing administration? Very clever, you have to say."