Downing Street is confident that a maximum of 20 Tories will rebel against Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal for Northern Ireland in a crucial vote, a Conservative MP has suggested.
The Prime Minister is reported to be sure that any backbench revolt against the Windsor Framework will be manageable after he sealed the deal with Brussels last month.
Remainer MPs added their voices to his demand for the Commons to get behind the deal and compared Eurosceptic Tories to “Japanese soldiers” who do not believe the Brexit war is over.
MPs will debate the “Stormont brake” – legislation giving Northern Ireland Assembly members a say on new EU law applying to the province – on Wednesday.
It will be their sole vote on the new Irish Sea border agreement, and eyes will be on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the European Research Group (ERG) of Tory MPs to see how they respond.
Number 10 issued a plea to Brexiteer backbenchers to get behind the deal, which cuts border checks on British goods entering Northern Ireland but preserves the role of EU judges.
“We believe this is the best deal for the people of Northern Ireland. It resolves the fundamental issues that we know the [Northern Ireland] Protocol was having on day-to-day lives,” said the Prime Minister’s spokesman. “So we would very much encourage MPs to vote for the deal next week.”