Whoops. Has the Prime Minister let the cat out of the bag on his whistle-stop tour of Northern Ireland to sell his latest wheeze to get Brexit done with the new Windsor Framework? 

While spelling out the reasons why the new deal is so good for all communities in Northern Ireland, Rishi Sunak told them they now had the best of all worlds: that being in the single market and the UK makes Northern Ireland the “world’s most exciting economic zone.”

He went on to say that: “Northern Ireland is in the unbelievably special position… in the entire world… in having privileged access to the UK home market… but also the European Single Market. Nobody else has that… only you guys in Northern Ireland.”

What did he mean by that? Is the Brexiteer PM actually conceding that pulling out of the single market was a disaster?

Who knows what he meant but No 10 was super quick in clearing up any potential misunderstandings. At the Downing Street lobby briefing the PM’s spokesperson said that Sunak’s comments this morning about Northern Ireland benefiting from being in the EU single market did not mean he thought the whole of the UK should be in it. 

Au contraire. This is what the spokesperson said: “The British people made a decision in 2016 and we are seeing the benefits of that decision, whether that’s in the ability to change our environment, laws, some of the tax elements the Prime Minister talked about just today, in fact.

“With regards to Northern Ireland, it is simply a fact that because of our respect for the Good Friday agreement and its central importance, Northern Ireland’s unique position means it needs to have access to both markets, not least to avoid a border on the island of Ireland, which nobody wants to see. That puts it in a unique position and what the framework does is finally cement those capabilities.”

Glad that one has been cleared up. Heaven forbid that the Prime Minister’s new cosying up to EU president Ursula von der Leyen means we are about to rejoin the single market, or indeed the EU. Leave that one to Labour after the next election.

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