UK prime minister Rishi Sunak is to claim he has negotiated “fundamental” changes to EU rules for Northern Ireland trade, as Brexiters hit out at a planned meeting between the European Commission president and King Charles.

In a bid to end the row that has overshadowed UK ties with the EU since Brexit three years ago, Ursula von der Leyen met Sunak in Windsor on Monday to seal the deal to reform the so-called Northern Ireland protocol.

Von der Leyen will also meet King Charles, a move that has sparked accusations by Brexiters that Sunak is trying to drag the monarch into the political arena.

Although the European Commission insisted the meeting was unconnected to the protocol, Nigel Farage, former Brexit party leader, said: “I think this is absolutely disgraceful of Rishi Sunak to even ask the king to get involved.”

Lady Arlene Foster, former leader of the Democratic Unionist party, said the move was “crass” and would “go down very badly” in Northern Ireland. Sunak’s allies said it was common for the king to meet foreign leaders.

Sunak is seeking to sell the reforms to pro-Brexit Tory MPs and the DUP with a statement to parliament scheduled for Monday afternoon.

British officials claim the prime minister has secured “fundamental” reforms to the protocol, part of Boris Johnson’s 2019 Brexit deal.

They say the agreement will fix concerns over trade friction on goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and what local politicians have called a “democratic deficit”, giving them a say over new EU rules in the region.

Two people with knowledge of the deal said that the revised settlement, which runs to more than 100 pages, is an “implementation agreement”.

Brussels will have to make some changes to existing EU law — as it did last year to resolve an issue over access to generic medicines for Northern Ireland — to give effect to the changes.

“It’s a fix that will allow the EU to say ‘we haven’t reopened the text of the deal’, but the UK can say ‘we’ve won material legal changes to the package’,” one insider said.

The UK has decided to provide full data transparency to the EU and build border control posts at Northern Irish ports — moves expected to simplify the processes needed for traders in Great Britain to send products to Northern Ireland.

Although full details of the scheme have not yet emerged, it is anticipated that full customs and animal-health certification at the border will not be required for products registered via a trusted trader scheme and labelled for “NI-Only” consumption only.

The EU is also expected to soften its stance over the rules for Northern Ireland residents receiving parcels from Great Britain by post.

Among the other expected changes is a derogation on pet passports that will enable UK residents to take their dogs to Northern Ireland without microchips and pet passports as if they were travelling to the EU, as currently required.

In addition, officials are confident of resolving a spat over steel quotas that led to HM Revenue & Customs warning UK producers last August that some products would be subject to 25 per cent tariffs when shipped to Northern Ireland.

The UK depicts the package as a significant improvement in the functioning of the trade border in the Irish Sea that Johnson agreed as part of the original Northern Ireland protocol deal in 2019.

More problematic for Sunak may be convincing the DUP and hardline Brexiters in his own party that the deal addresses the constitutional issues thrown up by the protocol.

Officials conceded that the agreement would not remove EU law or European Court of Justice jurisdiction from Northern Ireland, which remains part of the single market for goods, as demanded by Brexit hardliners.

Insiders on both sides indicated that Brussels had not moved substantially on the ECJ’s role in enforcing the protocol, although the UK is expected to argue that the amount of EU law being enforced will in effect have been reduced.

Nor will the deal meet a recent demand by the DUP for a dual regulatory regime in the region, with producers able to choose to apply UK standards, rather than EU rules, for exports into the British market.

The protocol requires the UK to refer subsidy or “state aid” decisions that might affect the Northern Ireland goods trade market to Brussels. The insiders indicated this would remain, but that only the largest decisions required referral.

The deal is expected to boost consultation with the Northern Ireland assembly about new EU rules and regulations applying in the region.

However, the consultative mechanism, expected to be similar to an EU system in place for Norway, will not amount to a veto.

Sunak hopes the deal will eventually persuade the DUP to rejoin the Stormont power-sharing executive, which it is boycotting in protest at the operation of the protocol.

But the prime minister is also targeting a much bigger prize of improved relations with the EU, including on scientific collaboration, and warmer ties with US president Joe Biden, who has expressed concerns about the stand-off over the Northern Ireland issue.

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