Rishi Sunak discusses NI agreement in Parliament
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Lord Frost has disputed Rishi Sunak’s claim that his Brexit deal means Britain has “now taken back control”. The former Brexit minister said the Prime Minister’s agreement “helps” but does not change the “fundamentals” on the Northern Ireland Protocol as EU law “remains supreme”.
The Conservative peer said: “The deal leaves a slightly amended Protocol and EU law in place in Northern Ireland and the EU has agreed to change its own laws so that they bite less tightly.
“That is worth having, but it isn’t taking back control.”
Lord Frost added that the deal is a “bitter pill to swallow” as in 2019 when Boris Johnson was forced to agree to the Protocol or “lost Brexit entirely”.
Writing for the Telegraph, he said: “That doesn’t mean the deal shouldn’t go ahead. It will help.
“But it won’t remove the underlying tensions, even if the DUP does decide to go back into Stormont.
“It leaves the Government still only partly sovereign over all its territory. Just as in 2019, that is a bitter pill to swallow.”
Lord Frost’s comments come after the PM finalised the Windsor Framework with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Monday.
The pact removes trade barriers across the Irish Sea and hands a “veto” to politicians in Stormont on EU law.
But it still includes a role for the European Court of Justice in what could be a key sticking point for hardline Brexiteers.
Mr Sunak is waiting for the verdict of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and the European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Eurosceptics.
ERG chairman Mark Francois last night revealed it will take around two weeks for its so-called “star chamber” of lawyers to scrutinise the agreement.
The Prime Minister yesterday called on Conservative MPs to give the DUP “time and space” to consider his Brexit deal.
He was understood to have told Conservative colleagues at a 1922 Committee meeting he had “spent a lot of time” with DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, whose party walked out of Stormont in protest at the post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.
He said: “And I would just say one thing to you all: we should give him and the DUP time and space.
“So let’s not pressure them for an instant answer. Let’s also remember that the last thing the public want is another Westminster drama.”
Northern Ireland Office minister Steve Baker, an arch-Brexiteer, said Tories were waiting with “bated breath” to see if the DUP backs the deal.
He said: “People are worried about the DUP but there’s an earnest sense of relief and support. I think we all believe he’s done it but now we just wait with bated breath to see if the DUP agrees.
“I recognise this is a very difficult time for the DUP, they’ve got hard choices to make but I believe in the end they will agree with me that this is a good deal for the union in all the circumstances.”
Mr Sunak on Monday told MPs in the Commons that his new agreement “puts beyond all doubt that we’ve now taken back control”, echoing Mr Johnson’s slogan.
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