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Nigel Farage has lashed out at Rishi Sunak’s Northern Ireland Protocol deal with the EU and claimed Brexit has still “not been completed”.
The honorary president of Reform UK party complained that Brussels regulations had “not been axed” from British statue books despite Tory pledges.
Mr Farage also claimed the UK’s borders “are as open as they have literally ever been” despite promises to “take back control” at the Brexit referendum.
Attacking the compromise deal on the protocol forged by Mr Sunak last month, the former Brexit Party leader said Northern Ireland remained “hived off” from Great Britain and was “still being controlled” by the EU.
Mr Farage fumed: “Three and a half years on, Brexit has not been completed, we are still under the jurisdiction of a foreign court in Strasbourg, our borders are as open as they have literally ever been.”
“Vast swathes of industry that were looking forward to benefits, the fishing industry being one, have seen virtually nothing in their favour. Regulations have not been axed.”
He added: “We have a high tax, big state, low growth, low productivity society and our public services are fundamentally broken.”
The former UKIP leader – who has unsuccessfully stood for parliament seven times – was speaking at Reform UK press conference where the right-wing party said it was “getting the band back together”.
Reform UK leader Richard Tice revealed 11 former Brexit Party MEPs, including Ann Widdecombe had joined the party – warning the Tories that “we mean business”.
Mr Sunak’s official spokesman rejected the Farage criticism and said the Windsor Framework deal will fix “longstanding problems”, while EU regulations in Northern Ireland have been “reduced right down to the very minimum level”.
But in a blow to No 10, the DUP has announced its MPs will vote against the government in this week’s first parliamentary vote on the protocol deal.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said DUP officers met on Monday morning and unanimously agreed to vote against the Stormont brake on Wednesday.
“Whilst representing real progress, the brake does not deal with the fundamental issue which is the imposition of EU law by the protocol,” he said.
Tory Brexiteers in the European Research Group (ERG) have not yet offered a formal verdict on the protocol compromise, as it prepares to publish a report by its “star chamber” of lawyers on Tuesday morning.
But the ERG is widely expected to give the deal a thumbs down. The Tory hardliners will dismiss the so-called Stormont brake as “unusable”, according to The Times – warning that any block would have to be ultimately agreed by the EU.
Mr Sunak’s spokesman told reporters: “We think this delivers on fixing the longstanding problems which have hindered individuals and businesses and caused such problems both for Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole.
“With regards to EU regulations, these have been reduced right down to the very minimum level to ensure there is no border on the island of Ireland, and I think that is the overriding priority of all parties in protecting and securing the Good Friday Agreement.”
Foreign secretary James Cleverly has announced that he will meet the EU’s Maros Sercovic in London on Friday to formally adopt the Windsor pact.