Rishi Sunak discusses NI agreement in Parliament
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Boris Johnson has privately urged the DUP to be cautious about backing Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal, according to reports. The former PM is said to have spoken to Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s party this afternoon.
Mr Johnson reportedly warned the DUP to think carefully before declaring its support for the agreement.
The intervention came after a report claimed the DUP was preparing to accept the agreement, according to Politics Home.
It comes as Mr Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today struck the “Windsor Framework” to replace the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was agreed under Mr Johnson.
The Prime Minister said his deal would remove trade barriers for Northern Ireland and give the UK a “veto” on EU law.
Mr Sunak is looking to secure the backing of the DUP in a bid to ensure the return of powersharing in Stormont, as well as Tory Eurosceptics.
Sir Jeffrey this evening welcomed “significant progress”, but said that “there remain key issues of concern”.
He told the Commons: “Our judgment and principal position in opposing the protocol in Parliament and at Stormont, I believe has been vindicated.
“Undoubtedly it is now recognised that the protocol does not work. And when others said there could be no renegotiation and no change, it was our determination that has proven what can be achieved.
“In broad terms, it is clear that significant progress has been secured across a number of areas, whilst also recognising that there remain key issues of concern.
“There can be no disguising the fact, for example, that in some sectors of our economy in Northern Ireland EU law remains applicable in our part of the United Kingdom.”
Sir Jeffrey said his party would want to “study the detail” of what has been published as well as examining “the legal text, the political declaration and the Government’s command paper”.
He added: “Where necessary we stand ready to engage with the Government in order to seek further clarification, reworking or change as required.”
Mr Johnson is believed to still be considering Mr Sunak’s deal and was absent from the Commons for the PM’s statement.
A source close to the former prime minister said that he is continuing to study and reflect on the agreement.
Addressing MPs hours after striking his deal, Mr Sunak hailed a “decisive breakthrough”.
The Prime Minister said: “After weeks of negotiations, today we have made a decisive breakthrough. The Windsor Framework delivers free-flowing trade within the whole UK.
“It protects Northern Ireland’s place in our Union and it safeguards sovereignty for the people of Northern Ireland. By achieving all this it preserves the delicate balance inherent in the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.
“It does what many said could not be done, removing thousands of pages of EU laws, and making permanent legally binding changes to the protocol treaty itself.
“That is the breakthrough we have made, those are the changes we will deliver and now is the time to move forward as one United Kingdom.”
A key part of the deal is an emergency “Stormont brake” on changes to EU goods rules that can be pulled by the Northern Ireland Assembly that Mr Sunak said would give the Westminster Government a “veto”.
The Prime Minister said it is a “very powerful mechanism” for Stormont to use when it has concerns over EU law.
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