Brexit tensions may be escalating after Rishi Sunak reportedly privately requested plans for rebuilding the UK’s relations with the European Union from ministers and officials.
According to Bloomberg, senior civil servants have been putting together proposals for how Britain can work more closely with EU member states across a range of policy areas, with the move being influenced in part by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The plans are thought to centre on defence, migration, and “economic statecraft,” which includes elements like trade, energy, and international standards.
Ministers, diplomats, and officials welcomed the Prime Minister’s decision to forge closer ties with the EU, but it could be fiercely opposed by ardent Brexiteers eager to distance the UK from the Union.
This comes at a time when UK officials are hopeful that they will be able to reach an agreement with Brussels on the long-running dispute over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was agreed upon in 2019.
The mechanism was intended to keep the Irish land border open, but regulatory and customs checks on goods bound for the Irish Sea have created economic barriers to trade between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
According to Bloomberg, the Prime Minister’s team sees his relationship with French President Emmanuel Macron as promising, and closer cooperation between the cross-Channel nations will be critical in addressing the migrant crisis.
Mr Sunak could also use any breakthrough in the deadlock as a springboard for more comprehensive and improved relations with the EU.