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Boris Johnson has said he will vote against the Government’s new Brexit deal today. The former PM said the new arrangements would mean the “whole of the UK” was unable “properly to diverge and take advantage of Brexit”. Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework was agreed with the EU last month in an attempt to solve issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.
But concerns have been raised over the deal, with prominent Brexiteers and Northern Irish Unionists questioning whether it will do enough to fix the problems.
Yesterday, a source close to the powerful European Research Group, which has voiced opposition to the deal, told the Daily Express that the Tory whips are “nervous” about tomorrow’s vote in the Commons.
The insider warned that “previous secretaries of state from some of the highest offices” are likely to vote against the legislation.
They said that, while the bill is likely to pass through the Commons as Labour has lent support to the Government, many Tory MPs are likely to “vote with their conscience” and oppose the legislation.
Mr Johnson said: “The proposed arrangements would mean either that Northern Ireland remained captured by the EU legal order – and was increasingly divergent from the rest of the UK – or they would mean that the whole of the UK was unable properly to diverge and take advantage of Brexit.
“That is not acceptable. I will be voting against the proposed arrangements today.
“Instead, the best course of action is to proceed with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, and make sure that we take back control.”
Mr Sunak is currently facing a battle with the European Research Group over the legislation.
The prominent group of Brexiteers described the Stormont Brake – which is a key part of the Government’s Brexit deal – as “practically useless”.
A 54-page document presented to ERG members yesterday morning warned that the Windsor Framework, signed by the UK and EU earlier this month, does not restore UK sovereignty over Northern Ireland or meet any of the group’s red lines.
Earlier this week it was revealed that the Democratic Unionists (DUP) will also reject the deal and vote against it today when the Government asks Parliament to approve the so-called Stormont Brake, which would give Northern Ireland a veto over EU rules.
The lengthy report, put together by Sir William Cash and a team of lawyers, said Mr Sunak’s deal “doubles down” on the hated Northern Ireland Protocol.
The report warned that “Northern Ireland remains subject to the power and control of EU law, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) and EU administrative organs (such as the European Commission) in respect of goods and ancillary matters.”
Noting that the two main objectives sought in renegotiating the deal are not achieved, they said: “The rights of the people of Northern Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800 are not restored.”
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