Politics

Brexit deal: How the ERG just handed Boris a vote victory that Remainers can’t stop

Labour: Expert predicts ‘big silent rebellion’ over Brexit vote

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been handed a vote victory that Remainers can’t argue with after the ERG recommended its members vote in favour of the Brexit deal. Mr Peston tweeted: “‘ERG officers have recommended members vote for the deal’. This is what Boris Johnson wanted for Christmas. It means his EU (future relationship) Bill will pass with zero controversy (or at least none on the Tory side of the house – Labour MPs are divided on it).” 

Following a meeting led by Sir Bill Cash, the ERG has given the agreement its backing. 

In a three-page statement, the ERG said: “Our overall conclusion is that the Agreement preserves the UK’s sovereignty as a matter of law and fully respects the norms of international sovereign-to-sovereign treaties. 

“The ‘level playing field’ clauses go further than in comparable trade agreements, but their impact on the practical exercise of sovereignty is likely to be limited if addressed by a robust government. 

“In any event, they do not prevent the UK from changing its laws as it sees fit at a risk of countermeasures, and if those were unacceptable the Agreement could be terminated on 12 months’ notice.”

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The Prime Minister announced a trade deal had been done on Christmas Eve, just days before the transition period is due to end on December 31.

When discussing the deal, Mr Johnson insisted it would withstand even the “most ruthless scrutiny” from the ERG. 

The Prime Minister conceded the Christmas Eve deal “perhaps does not go as far as would like” over access to the EU’s markets for financial services. 

He did, however, admit the agreement brought an end to a “long and fractious period”. 

The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) has already said they won’t be voting for the agreement, which they feel isn’t in Scotland’s national interest. 

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: “Boris Johnson’s extreme Tory Brexit is an unforgivable act of economic vandalism and gross stupidity, which will cause lasting damage to the economy and leave the UK much worse off at the worst possible time – during a pandemic and economic recession. 

“Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process and we are being forced to pay a devastating price. 

“It is clear that the only way to protect Scotland’s interests, and regain the full benefits of EU membership, is to become an independent country.”

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Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs in the Commons are also expected to vote against the deal when the time comes to do so. 

The DUP supported Brexit but rejected last year’s Withdrawal Agreement, which included specific arrangements for avoiding a return to a hard border with the Republic of Ireland. 

DUP leader Arlene Foster said while the trade deal brings tariff and quota-free trade between Britain and the bloc, there are still “many negative issues” arising from the Northern Ireland protocol. 

Ms Foster said: “On that basis we will vote against this agreement. We will continue to work to mitigate the worst excesses of the separate Northern Ireland arrangements whilst exploring new opportunities for Northern Ireland.”

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