Boris Johnson says he will struggle to support Rishi Sunak’s new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.
The former prime minister – who claimed to have an ‘oven-ready deal three years ago – said the Government ‘needs to be clear’ moving forward.
In a Westminster speech, Mr Johnson said: ‘I’m going to find it very difficult to vote for something like this myself, because I believed we should’ve done something very different.
‘No matter how much plaster came off the ceiling in Brussels.
‘I’m conscious I’m not going to be thanked for saying this, but I think it is my job to do so: we must be clear about what is really going on here.
‘This is not about the UK taking back control, and although there are easements this is really a version of the solution that was being offered last year to Liz Truss when she was foreign secretary.
‘This is the EU graciously unbending to allow us to do what we want to do in our own country, not by our laws but by theirs.’
Mr Sunak delivered a Brexit trade agreement with Ursula von der Leyen earlier this week.
Speaking on Monday, he acknowledged that the UK and EU have ‘had our differences’, but declared ‘the beginning of a new chapter in our relationship’.
The new agreement includes green lane and red lane trade routes – with goods remaining in the UK using the green lane to avoid customs bureaucracy and goods moving to the EU being sent in the red lane.
A ‘landmark’ settlement on medicines has also been promised, as drugs approved for use by the UK’s medicines regulator will become automatically available in every pharmacy and hospital in Northern Ireland.
The arrangement comes with a new ‘Stormont brake’ – a move designed to ‘safeguard’ Northern Ireland’s sovereignty.
Speaking today, Northern Ireland Office minister Lord Caine said there are still details of the Stormont brake ‘yet to be filled in’.
He told peers that consultation with Northern Ireland parties is imminent and legislation will follow.
His comments came as Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick, former leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in Northern Ireland, questioned the Government on the mechanism of the Stormont brake.
Lord Caine said: ‘What the command paper and the supporting documentation does is to set out the framework.
‘There are some details that have yet to be filled in that will be dealt with in legislation – and they will follow consultations that the Northern Ireland Secretary intends to begin with the Northern Ireland parties almost immediately.’
Concluding his speech, Mr Johnson conceded he made mistakes in signing his Northern Ireland Protocol that caused the DUP to walk out of powersharing because of trade barriers in the Irish Sea.
He said: ‘I thought those checks would not be onerous since there isn’t that much stuff that falls into that category; most of the goods stay in Northern Ireland.
Muttering, the former prime minister added: ‘It’s all my fault, I fully accept responsibility.’
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