Big boost for Sunak as Boris privately backs his Brexit deal

Rishi Sunak had a “good discussion” with Boris Johnson over his new Brexit deal, according to Downing Street. The Prime Minister has secured widespread support for the reforms aimed at easing border trade tensions in Northern Ireland, but Mr Johnson is yet to give a verdict.

It is believed he is unlikely to oppose the changes being proposed to the exit agreement he struck after leading Brexiteers backed the plans.

“The PM believes that it’s right that colleagues across the House have the time to reflect and go through the details of the agreement,” the Prime Minister’s press secretary said.

She added that Mr Sunak and Mr Johnson “had a good discussion”.

The Prime Minister has promised to hold a Commons vote on the new pact, known as the Windsor framework.

It includes significant concessions from Brussels to allow trade across the Irish sea to be carried out without the onerous checks it had previously demanded after Brexit.

Labour has said it will support the reforms but Northern Ireland’s DUP is still scrutinising the details.

DUP chief whip Sammy Wilson said the party wants to consider the substance rather than the Government’s “spin”.

He said the party should have a say on whether Northern Ireland becomes a “colony of the EU”.

“We’ll be going back to the Government. We’ve already identified a whole range of things that the Government has claimed will happen, which we now know won’t happen because we’ve looked at the EU’s explanation of it,” Mr Wilson said.

“As members of the United Kingdom and in a democracy, we should have a say as to whether or not we are hived off and become a colony of the EU,” Sammy Wilson told Times Radio.

“It’s not the duty of the UK Government to safeguard the single market of the EU at the expense of the integrity and the unity of its own country. But that’s what’s happening at present.”

The European Research Group of Tory eurosceptics has said it will give its verdict on the deal within a fortnight after its “star chamber” of lawyers has assessed the details.

Chairman Mark Francois said: “But because of the importance of this, if it takes a little bit longer than that, then it takes a little bit longer, but I think as a working assumption…

“They will look at how exactly will the Stormont brake operate in practice? Can the EU retaliate? That’s an important consideration.

“What about the role of the joint committee in all of this? There’s a whole range of issues that people have raised and, as I say, the star chamber will go through them in fine detail.”

Nadine Dorries, a close ally of Mr Johnson’s, became the first Conservative MP to condemn the deal struck by Mr Sunak.

She said the “Stormont break doesn’t actually exist” and there were “huge quantities of smoke, mirrors and spin at play”.

She said it is “patently not true that we have removed any sense of a border in the Irish Sea”.

“Checks are being reduced, not eliminated,” Ms Dorries said.

“And I suppose just to finish, the rubbishing of the NI protocol bill by No10 which everyone in cabinet enthusiastically signed up to as it was the only means available to break a deadlock and move forward in order to get Brexit over a line has been pretty naff and childish.”

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