The meeting between King Charles III and European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, scheduled for today in the United Kingdom, in the final part of the highly controversial negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol, was skipped at the last minute.
This was reported by Sky News, giving the news of the meeting - then canceled - suggested by Prime Minister Sunak, just when, after weeks of tense talks and growing anger between the conservatives and the Tories, the post-Brexit agreement between the United Kingdom and the EU on Northern Ireland is expected within a few days, which could receive many disputes. That is why the king could have played an important role, meeting von der Leyen.
The monarch is bound by the Constitution to maintain his political neutrality, however, although he did not participate in the negotiations, his meeting with the President of the Commission could have been seen as a substantial endorsement. The government has been accused of wanting to "politicise" the monarchy, denies any aim and assures that the meeting would be kept completely separate from Brexit.
The plan for Saturday was for Von der Leyen to meet with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to approve the deal and separately see the king. The decision to organise a face-to-face meeting between the president of the EU commission and the sovereign would have been agreed jointly by Downing Street and Buckingham Palace.
After the public revelation of the plan, British government sources said that Von der Leyen would not travel to the UK, but that it would not be improper for the king, as head of state, to meet a visiting European leader.
Even in the absence of a formal invitation, it appears that British politicians and senior EU officials were aware of the event due to take place in Windsor this afternoon.
The agreement that agitates the Tories
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been in talks for weeks with the EU over the post-Brexit deal for Northern Ireland, a deal that has created an effective border in the Irish Sea, putting companies trying to send goods from Britain into difficulty. It seems that a solution is in the home straight. According to The Times, Sunak wants to close the deal on Sunday and wants to publish the draft with or without the explicit endorsement of the Democratic Unionist Party, ready to challenge the Tory eurosceptics, despite the fact that they threaten "civil war", standing up to the hostility of the Europhobic wing of the party, headed by former head of government Boris Johnson.
Under the proposed changes to the post-Brexit rules for Northern Ireland, almost all controls and most documents on goods crossing the Irish Sea would be eliminated. Boris Johnson is obviously against it, convinced that Sunak's plan would still give the European Union some sovereignty over Northern Ireland.
The former prime minister pushes for the bill designed at the time of his government, which would have allowed the government to 'in full' renege on the current Brexit agreement, but the plan involves legal problems that expose London to the risk of having to pay compensation to the European Union.
The fact is that Von der Leyen was supposed to arrive today in the United Kingdom to announce the agreement with Sunak and then meet the king for tea at Windsor Palace. The appointment was skipped, but Downing Street was accused of trying to drag the king into politics. According to Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former cabinet minister and Eurosceptic Tory voice, "they acted at the limit of constitutional correctness".