The Daily Telegraph

What is it about this PM who is not Johnson that Europeans love so much?

- By Tim Stanley

Rishi Sunak seems to have unified an entire continent. How did he do it? By trashing Boris Johnson. Before the PM had his final Protocol negotiatio­ns with Ursula von der Leyen, his people met Steve Baker in No10, leader of the powerful caucus that represents Steve Baker. And when Baker himself emerged smiling from No 10, we knew the deal was back on. On to Windsor, that is – a location that had absolutely nothing to do with King Charles. Sources say Windsor was chosen because it’s close to the M4 and five minutes from Legoland. In fact, No10’s first choice for the EU/UK press conference was the Golden Lantern Chinese Buffet on the high street, but sadly it was already booked by Nato, so they had to settle for the Guildhall where, yes, the room was stuffed with so many portraits of royalty it looked like Buckingham Palace.

And, yes, Charles would be meeting Ursula later on. But I am assured that the title of the new agreement, the Windsor Framework, was not some cheap attempt to imply a royal blessing. It is a reference to the famous tie knot, or the knotty problem that Rishi has severed like Alexander at Gordium (another young man in a hurry). This conference was choreograp­hed to give the impression that our clever PM has not only torn up the Protocol but reset relations with the EU, reinforced by Ursula’s gushing remark that we now see “eye to eye” on Ukraine. Hands shot up from the hacks; I’m impressed they knew what to ask. To most Englishmen, the actual substance of the Protocol is a mystery – something to do with cold meats – and it was only when I downloaded the new framework that the scale of the challenge became clear.

I went straight to the pets section. My spaniel has a desire to see the Giant’s Causeway. Did you know that under the Protocol, he’d have been treated as a rabies risk when entering Northern Ireland?! It’s amazing Britain ever agreed to this – but astonishin­g, too, that the EU has now agreed to lift it. What is it about this prime minister who is not Boris Johnson that makes him so attractive to the Europeans?

Sunak was greeted by a full House of Commons, including many people we never knew were MPS (I spotted Bonnie Tyler), and his framework was welcomed not just by his own side but the Labour front bench (or at least, those in view of the TV cameras; Emily Thornberry and Yvette Cooper shook their heads constantly). The key to this outbreak of consensus was the ironic cheer that Rishi got when he said “I wish to pay tribute to my predecesso­rs for laying the groundwork...”

Theresa May noted that the Protocol backed by Boris in 2019 had “adopted the EU’S preferred proposal of a border down the Irish Sea”, and Sir Keir Starmer accused Boris of misleading Unionists and showing them “contempt”.

Boris said nothing. He was not there. Tiberius had gone to Capri to sulk.

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