Rishi Sunak poised to defy DUP and announce Brexit deal

Rishi Sunak is poised to announce his post-Brexit deal with the EU on Monday, with or without DUP approval, after securing the support of leading Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party.

The prime minister is set to hold face-to-face talks with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in the UK at lunchtime before meeting his cabinet to sign off on an agreement to fix the Northern Ireland protocol.

If the final text is agreed tomorrow, Mr Sunak is expected to hold a press conference with Ms Von der Leyen later afternoon before heading to the House of Commons to deliver a statement.

The Independent understands that the prime minister will argue that the deal with Brussels will boost the Northern Irish economy and improve the lives of people in the country, as well as safeguarding its place in the union.

Deputy PM Dominic Raab made it clear on Sunday that there was “no de facto veto” for the DUP, the unionist party that is still expected to oppose the compromise.

“There’s no de facto veto, but of course we want to engage, and persuade, and convince, and demonstrate … [that] the changes are substantial enough for the DUP,” he told Channel 4’s The Andrew Neil Show. “We’re confident enough in the substance of the changes to feel front-footed about doing so.”

Senior Tory MPs told The Independent that they also expected Mr Sunak to agree a deal without the backing of the unionists or the European Research Group (ERG), after conversations with the PM and No 10 officials in recent days.

Former Brexit secretary David Davis told The Independent that his own “instinct” was to support a deal, and that he expected a rebellion of hardliners to be limited to a few dozen MPs. “I think the idea of 100 rebels is absolute nonsense,” he said.

Mr Davis added: “Sunak is working hard to win Brexit supporters over. I’ve had a call from him. If he needs Labour support [to get a deal through parliament], it might be mildly embarrassing, but nothing more.”

Senior Tory Martin Vickers, a member of the powerful 1922 Committee of backbenchers, told The Independent: “I was a staunch Brexit supporter, but we have to move on. On the basis of the outline [of the deal], I see no problem with it. We should rally round the prime minister.”

Mr Raab said there had been a “paradigm shift”, revealing on Sunday that there had been “movement” with Brussels to address concerns around Northern Ireland not having a say on EU rules governing VAT and other areas.

The deal is also expected to emphasis a greater role for Northern Irish courts, as well as removing barriers to trade by introducing a “green lane” for goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mr Raab suggested that MPs would get a vote on the deal. “MPs will have a chance of expressing themselves,” he told Sky News. “You have to carry parliament with you, and I’m confident we would be able to.”

Despite a deal being imminent, a senior ERG figure told The Independent that Mr Sunak had not reached out to the group over the weekend. Mark Francois, the chair of the ERG, said his group would still not back the deal unless it provided for EU law to be completely “expunged” in Northern Ireland.

The hardliner told Sky News that “less of a role” for the European Court of Justice (ECJ) – but one that upholds the court as the ultimate arbiter in Brexit-related disputes – was not “good enough”, and insisted “We are not stupid.”

Mr Francois told the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme: “If were advising the prime minister, my honest advice to him would be, don’t try to bounce parliament [into a vote] next week, because that is likely to go badly wrong.”

It comes as Tory grandees attacked Boris Johnson’s attempt to push the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, a unilateral alternative to the deal, and also as the former British ambassador to the US condemned Mr Johnson for saying “F*** the Americans!” during a heated exchange in the Commons.

Allies of Mr Johnson have not disputed that he made the remark about the US in a conversation with former minister Sir Robert Buckland, though a source close to the former PM said it was “not language we would use”.

Writing for The Independent, Sir Peter Westmacott criticised Mr Johnson’s efforts to undermine Mr Sunak as “beyond the pale” – saying he is making life more difficult for the current prime minister by “offending our closest ally”.

Boris Johnson is accused of ‘offending our closest ally’ in bid to undermine Sunak

Related Articles

Bir cavab yazın

Sizin e-poçt ünvanınız dərc edilməyəcəkdir. Gərəkli sahələr * ilə işarələnmişdir

Back to top button