Blog: Sunak goes to war with Brexiteers and fully rejects report that EU deal is ‘useless’ – Express

Rishi Sunak has hit back at Brexiteers who were critical of the Government’s new deal with the EU on Northern Ireland. The European Research Group called the Stormont Brake – which is a key part of the Government’s Brexit deal – “practically useless”. But the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said: “Clearly we don’t accept that characterisation”.

The official explained: “The brake addresses the democratic deficit and provides a clear democratic safeguard for the people of Northern Ireland.

“It goes further than the July 2021 command paper and the Bill, ends the ratchet of automatic presumption of dynamic alignment, it puts the arrangements in Northern Ireland under a new framework of democratic control.

“It covers all the rules that could cause issues for Northern Ireland and is a matter for the UK alone, with no role for the European Union in deciding when the brake is used or agreeing whether the rule is disapplied.”

A 54-page document presented to ERG members this morning warned that the Windsor Framework, signed by the UK and EU earlier this month, does not restore UK sovereignty over Northern Ireland or meet any of the group’s red lines.

Yesterday it was revealed that the Democratic Unionists (DUP) will also reject the deal and vote against it tomorrow when the government asks Parliament to approve the so-called Stormont Brake, which would give Northern Ireland a veto over EU rules.

The lengthy report, put together by Sir William Cash and a team of lawyers, said Mr Sunak’s deal “doubles down” on the hated Northern Ireland Protocol.

The report warned that “Northern Ireland remains subject to the power and control of EU law, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) and EU administrative organs (such as the European Commission) in respect of goods and ancillary matters.”

Noting that the two main objectives sought in renegotiating the deal are not achieved, they said: “The rights of the people of Northern Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800 are not restored.

“The hard border remains between the two different legal systems, which comprise those of (a) Great Britain, and (b) the newly created EU law regime in Northern Ireland.”

On “doubling down” on the existing Northern Ireland Protocol, they said: “The UK provides new commitments and undertakings which reaffirm and embed the status and structures of the Withdrawal Agreement and its NI Protocol.”

In a particularly damning verdict, they noted: “The Government commits to stopping the progress of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which, if enacted, would allow for the restoration of UK sovereignty in Northern Ireland.”

Speaking after the ERG was presented with the report, chairman Mark Francois said: “The DUP have made their position very plain – they’re going to vote against. We, to some degree have been critical of the government for not allowing people enough time to digest everything.

“So for instance the SI and the explanatory notes only came out yesterday, so we don’t want to be hoist by our own petard.”

He said the group would meet again tomorrow morning, as it is yet to make a collective decision on how it will vote.

Mr Francois explained: “Because we need to allow people time to digest this, the ERG will be meeting again tomorrow in this room at the same time, once people have had an opportunity to digest all this documentation.

“We as a group will discuss what attitude – if any – to take and we’ll be having that meeting just before PMQs.”

He added: “The group hasn’t taken a decision yet and ultimately – this has always been our way – it will be down to every individual colleague in the group.”

But a senior ERG source told the press the group is “unlikely to reach a joint decision.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s