Rishi Sunak ‘confident’ only 20 Tory MPs could rebel against Brexit deal in crunch vote
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Rishi Sunak’s so-called Stormont Brake provides no actual power to veto EU laws being foisted on Britain, a Brexiteer has claimed, after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) vowed to vote against the plan tomorrow. Brexiteer businessman Ben Habib said despite the Prime Minister’s claims to the contrary, the Windsor Framework unveiled last month is essentially no different to the Northern Ireland Protocol, the mechanism for preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland which the DUP and others argue has resulted in a border down the Irish Sea.
Speaking yesterday, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the party’s officers had officers had unanimously agreed to vote against the proposals, which would permit a minority of MLAs at Stormont to formally flag concerns about the imposition of new EU laws in Northern Ireland – a move that could see the UK Government veto their introduction in the region.
He said: “Notwithstanding the issues and conditions which have to be met to make the brake work, it remains the case that the brake is not designed for, and therefore cannot apply, to the EU law which is already in place and for which no consent has been given for its application.”
Mr Habib told Express.co.uk: “Contrary to Rishi Sunak’s false claims, the Windsor Framework is not a new settlement for Northern Ireland. It is essentially the same as the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“That is why there will be no vote on it in Parliament.”
Tomorrow’s vote, solely focused on the Stormont brake, was “also unnecessary”, said Mr Habib, a Brexit Party MEP in 2019, who yesterday confirmed his decision to join Richard Tice’s Reform UK.
He continued: “It is political choreography designed falsely to legitimise changing the foundations of the Good Friday Agreement.
“Far from upholding that agreement, like the Protocol, the Windsor Framework drives a coach and horses through that peace settlement.
“The ‘brake’, offered apparently to address the democratic deficit created by new EU laws being foisted on Northern Ireland, by giving Stormont a veto, does not work.
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“The brake would only be exercisable in exceptional circumstances where a proposed EU law would demonstrably have a material adverse impact and then only if HMG agreed.
“And, even after all those hurdles were passed, the EU would be entitled unilaterally to impose sanctions on the UK for having the temerity of exercising the brake. Some brake!”
Mr Habib said he was therefore “utterly delighted” to hear the DUP was planning to vote against it.
Referring to Northern Ireland’s current lack of a devolved government, he continued: “If Sunak believed at all in the principle of cross-community consent, which is at the heart of the Good Friday Agreement, he would now ditch the Windsor Framework.
“Of course, he will not – so the DUP must refuse to restore Stormont in Belfast unless and until Northern Ireland is restored to the United Kingdom.”
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Reacting to the DUP’s announcement, the Government has insisted it has no plans to renegotiate the Windsor Framework Brexit deal despite the DUP vowing to vote against it in Parliament.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We remain confident that this is the best deal for Northern Ireland.
“Of course we wanted to give the DUP and other parties as much time as possible to consider the deal and come to a view.
“Equally we need to provide certainty to the people and businesses of Northern Ireland which is why we have started the process of votes.”
He added: “The DUP are important partners in this.
“We want to answer any further questions they have and provide any necessary reassurance and we stand ready to do that.”
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