Former Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will vote against the “Stormont brakes” aspect of Risha Sunak’s new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.
The Treaty of Windsor was agreed by Prime Minister and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on 27 February to change the way the Protocol works for Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister described the proposals as a “turning point” for Northern Ireland that would end uncertainty in the region.
A key part of the proposals was a new “Stormont brake” that would “protect[s] sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland’.
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Mr Sunack said the brake would allow the Northern Ireland Assembly to stop changes being made to EU rules on goods. “If the brakes are released, the UK government will have a veto,” the prime minister said in February.
A key vote on this key piece of legislation will take place on Wednesday afternoon.
In a statement, Boris Johnson said the proposed new arrangements would mean “the whole of Britain” would not be able to “separate properly and take advantage of Brexit”.
“The proposed arrangements would mean that Northern Ireland remained under the EU legal order – and increasingly different from the rest of the UK – or they would mean that the whole of the UK could not properly depart and benefit from Brexit,” he said.
“This is unacceptable. I will be voting against the proposed arrangements today.
Instead, Mr Johnson recommended the Prime Minister push for a Northern Ireland Protocol Bill that would unilaterally cancel aspects of NI’s trade arrangements after Brexit.
The former prime minister’s announcement that he will vote against Rishi Sunak’s new EU withdrawal deal could prompt more Conservative MPs to oppose the Windsor Framework, a former cabinet minister has said.
This was told by Sir John Redwood, who is in favor of leaving the EU Times Radio: “Well, maybe because he obviously knew a lot about these negotiations, because he had to try and salvage the very failed negotiations that Theresa May was having.
“But I think it’s even more important that MPs focus on this issue after a lot of noise on other topics, and I hope that they will all focus on this throughout the night and this morning because the ERG has really prepared some extremely important legal advice that was published yesterday and I would recommend that all MPs read it before voting”.
Mr Redwood also denied that Conservative Brexiteers were “unrealistic” in opposing the Windsor Framework and demanding a different way forward.
The senior Conservative MP added: “I am true to the spirit of the vote that I and many millions of others cast to strip our country of EU law and EU control, and there will be much more of this, endless debate, if we sign this deal and if Parliament approves the agreement.
Asked to estimate the size of the Conservative rebellion, Mr Redwood said: “Well, I have no idea. There will be an ERG meeting this morning where we will discuss with each other and see if we all agree or not.’
On Tuesday, a group of Eurosceptic Conservative MPs called Stormont’s brakes “virtually useless”, but the group’s chairman, Marc Francois, did not say they would vote against them.
“The ERG does not wield a whip,” Mr Redwood added, “There is only one whip in the Conservative Party, the official Conservative whip. In that case, quite a few Conservatives who want Brexit won’t be able to follow the Conservative whip.”
Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith is among those set to vote against the framework Telegraph.
The DUP also announced it would vote as a bloc against the deal.
In a statement, party leader Sir Geoffrey Donaldson said: “Our party officers, the sole decision-making mechanism in our party on these issues, met this morning and unanimously agreed that, in the context of our continued concern and need to see further progress, it is warranted to continue to seek clarifications, changes and reworking that our members of parliament will vote against the draft regulatory document on Wednesday.”
However, with Labor backing the Windsor Framework Agreement, Mr Sunak is expected to win the general population division comfortably.
The vote on the framework is likely to come in the middle of Mr Johnson’s session on a select committee to determine whether he deliberately misled parliament about the party.