Brexit: Liz Truss says countries 'want to work with' the UK
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Mujtaba Rahman, the head of Eurasia Group’s Europe practice, highlighted how the Prime Minister is facing a backlash over alleged rule-breaking Christmas parties, as well as a rebellion over new Covid restrictions, while Labour has taken a lead in polls. Mr Rahman said next May’s local elections could be the final straw for Mr Johnson and spark a vote of no confidence if they do not go well for the Tories.
The expert added that the Chancellor and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are favourites to replace the Prime Minister.
But Mr Rahman said Mr Sunak is likely to take a less bullish approach to Brussels than Mr Johnson.
It comes as the two sides are wrangling over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Writing for Politico, Mr Rahman said: “But what if Johnson doesn’t make it?
“As it stands, the two front-runners to succeed him next year are Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who are both already on discreet manoeuvres given Johnson’s troubles.
“Although Sunak probably wouldn’t want to risk alienating Tory members by advertising it in advance, as prime minister, he would likely adopt a more pragmatic approach to EU relations than Johnson or Truss.
“His approach would be driven by economic realities rather than ideology, and he would be more likely than Truss to actually ‘move on’ from Brexit and eventually reset relations with the EU.
“Truss, however, would likely stick to Johnson’s hardball approach.
“Her first major speech as foreign secretary last week included only a passing reference to the EU.”
Mr Rahman’s comments come as talks are continuing between Britain and the EU over the Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.
The protocol was agreed as part of the Withdrawal Agreement in order to avoid a hard border in Ireland after the UK left the EU.
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Both sides are trying to reach an agreement that would reduce customs paperwork and the number of checks required on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, with the EU making a number of concessions to ease trade frictions.
But a dispute around the role of the European Court of Justice continues to be a major stumbling block.
Brexit minister Lord Frost has been having weekly meetings with his EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic in a bid to break the deadlock.
Reports have suggested that the UK has watered down its demand that the role of the ECJ must be removed from the protocol.
Meanwhile, tensions have also been flaring between the UK and France over post-Brexit fishing arrangements.
With outstanding issues on the protocol and fishing, Brexit is expected to spark contention into 2022.
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