Rishi Sunak was not about to use King Charles to back his long-awaited deal to end the dispute with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, government sources say.
According to reports, a personal meeting between the King and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was planned as part of a trip to the UK to seal a deal on a Brexit trade deal.
“It would be wrong to suggest that the king would be involved in anything remotely political,” a government source told PA news agency.
A discussed meeting on Saturday and a plan to announce a revised pact, code-named the Windsor deal, has now been cancelled, but hopes remain for an announcement on Monday after Sunak and Von der Leyen had “positive” discussions on the Northern Ireland Protocol on Friday .
Buckingham Palace said it would not comment on the matter.
Sammy Wilson, Brexit spokesman for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), said any consideration of the king’s involvement was politically “naive”.
“Not only is the Prime Minister naive if that is what he planned to do, but this is cynical use or abuse of the King,” Wilson told Sky News on Saturday.
He said this would mean “drawing the King into an extremely controversial political issue, not just in Northern Ireland but even within his own party”.
The DUP is boycotting power-sharing in Northern Ireland in opposition to the protocol.
Controversy erupted when the government confirmed there was no central database to track regulatory divergences between the UK and Northern Ireland, at the heart of the DUP’s objections to the protocol.
David Jones, lead member of the Conservative Party’s pro-Brexit European Research Group, says since Brexit goes into effect in 2020, there are now 500 pieces of EU legislation that apply in Northern Ireland but not in the rest of the UK .
But Europe Minister Leo Docherty wrote to the House of Lords Protocol Committee on Friday that there was no “one unit” in Whitehall to monitor the emergence of new EU laws, rules and regulations affecting Northern Ireland.
He told Lord Jay, the committee’s chairman, that monitoring discrepancies was “a task that involves and involves all government departments with the relevant policy remit.”
He added: “I would like to note that impact assessments of UK regulatory proposals include cost-benefit analyzes of the impact of any divergence. While such impact assessments will not be launched in the event of discrepancies arising from changes to EU legislation, monitoring processes and explanatory memoranda will allow the government and stakeholders to assess the impacts.”
The EU and Downing Street said the Prime Minister and Von der Leyen would speak again in “coming days”.
The pair have spoken to each other three times over the past week, including talking face-to-face on the sidelines of the Munich security conference last Saturday.
Sunak is also expected to schedule a second meeting with the DUP, which has called for an end to EU law in Northern Ireland, which is almost certainly out of the question as it would require a complete rewrite of most of the protocol.