Rishi Sunak is “confident” a maximum of just 20 Tory MPs could rebel against his Brexit deal at a crunch vote next week, it has been claimed. MPs will get their first chance to vote on the PM’s agreement with the EU on post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland in the Commons next Wednesday.
No 10 has decided to hold the vote as it is “confident” only 20 Conservative MPs will rebel, TalkTV reports.
Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke said the figure sounds “roughly about right”.
He told the broadcaster: “I think there is a hardcore which won’t accept any compromise at all but then there is no way out of the fact you want to honour the Good Friday Agreement.
“I think the Prime Minister has done an outstanding job with this agreement.
“And I think it was something a lot of people didn’t think we would get there.
“Liz Truss actually laid a lot of groundwork with the green and red channels, that’s come to pass.
“She got the negotiations moving, Rishi Sunak has finalised them.
“The public wants this over and done with, Parliament wants this over and done with.
“I think there is a few Japanese soldiers not believing the war is over but I think they are very, very few now.”
It comes as a member of the ERG of Conservative Eurosceptics told the Express that members could vote against the Government.
The powerful group of Tory Brexiteers has a team of top lawyers led by Stone MP Sir Bill Cash who have been going through the deal with a fine-tooth comb since it was announced last month.
The source said: “We are expecting the Star Chamber chaired by Sir Bill Cash to report back to the ERG before Wednesday with its conclusions on the deal.”
Asked if the group could rebel, the source said: “Yes.”
Meanwhile, the DUP’s position on the deal is understood to be “hardening”.
The Commons will be asked to approve regulations to implement the so-called Stormont brake element of the Windsor Framework.
Downing Street said the measure – which potentially gives the UK a veto over the imposition of new EU rules in Northern Ireland – was the “most significant part” of the agreement.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We believe this meets the commitment the Prime Minster made to have a vote on the new arrangements focused on an issue which is at the heart of the framework.”
With Labour having made clear they will support the deal in Parliament, the statutory instrument (SI) to implement the brake mechanism is expected to pass comfortably.
Mr Sunak unveiled the new framework last month to replace the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The protocol was designed to avoid a hard Irish border after Brexit.
But unionists have been angered as it has created trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and the DUP collapsed powersharing at Stormont in protest.