Rishi Sunak fought desperately to contain a Tory revolt over his new Brexit deal today after Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Priti Patel vowed to oppose the plan.
The Prime Minister insisted that the Windsor Framework is a “good deal” for Northern Ireland despite a number of big beasts joining the DUP in the first decisive vote this afternoon.
Speaking at the PMQ, Mr. Sunak argued that the package will protect the ‘place of the province in our former union’.
However, nerves are tense at number 10 after Johnson, who had already raised concerns about the deal negotiated with Brussels, confirmed that he will go against the ‘Stormont Brake’ in the House of Commons later on.
Sources close to Ms Truss said she had concluded the proposal “does not satisfactorily resolve the issues raised by the Protocol and almost fatally affects the UK’s ability to deviate from EU rules and regulations.”
Former cabinet ministers Priti Patel, Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg also voted against it. And in a new coup, the eurosceptic ERG bloc has urged its members to revolt.
In a sign of rising Conservative tensions, Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker, who once described himself as the ‘Brexit tough man’, warned this morning that Johnson risks looking like a ‘tough shop’. of pounds Nigel Farage’. He called on his colleagues to “save the win” and move on.
A major rebellion will be detrimental to Sunak, especially if he is left to rely on Labor support to pass the measures.
Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has already announced that he will give the final go-ahead to the Windsor Framework in a meeting with the EU’s Maros Sefcovic on Friday.
Rishi Sunak insisted that the Windsor Framework is a “good deal” for Northern Ireland despite a number of big beasts joining the DUP in the first deciding vote this afternoon.
Boris Johnson (right) and Priti Patel (left) vote against the Windsor Framework today
Sources close to Liz Truss said she had concluded the proposal “does not satisfactorily resolve the issues raised by the Protocol and almost fatally affects the UK’s ability to deviate from EU rules and regulations.”
Johnson, who faces a four-hour Partygate showdown with the Privileges Committee amid the Brexit drama, said in a statement overnight that the terms are “not acceptable”.
“I will vote against the proposed arrangements today,” he said.
“Instead, the best course of action is to proceed with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill and make sure we regain control.”
Which Conservatives are rebelling against Rishi Sunak’s Brexit plan?
Parliamentarians will vote on Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework this afternoon.
The Conservatives who have said they will vote against are:
- Boris Johnson
- liz truss
- simon clarke
- james dudridge
- Sir Iain Duncan Smith
- david jones
- priti patel
- peter bone
- andrea jenkyns
- Marcos Francois
- nadine dories
- Jacob Rees Mogg
The DUP has already said that its eight MPs will vote against the regulation to implement the Stormont brake while it continues to seek changes to the overall framework.
The former prime minister, who agreed the original Northern Ireland Protocol with Brussels as a way to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, indicated earlier this month that he would find it “very difficult” to support the Windsor deal.
Doubts swirl about the size of the Tory rebellion as secondary legislation on the Stormont brake comes before MPs.
Ministers had hoped the number would be limited to a dozen, meaning the government can get by without Labour’s help.
Yesterday the European Research Group (ERG) said the brake, which is intended to provide a veto on the imposition of new EU regulations in Northern Ireland, is “virtually useless” following an analysis of the framework by his “star chamber” of lawyers.
However, the bloc was expected to split on the issue.
While the DUP is in no position to block him, his opposition suggests that a return to power-sharing in Stormont is highly unlikely anytime soon.
The Executive and Assembly have been suspended since the DUP walked out last year in protest at the way the protocol operated, saying it weakened Northern Ireland’s position in the UK.
Questioned by reporters in Whitehall this morning, Mr Baker urged Mr Johnson not to risk becoming ‘a pound shop Nigel Farage’ and also appealed to Ms Truss to join.
“Both should support the Windsor Framework today,” he said.
‘What I would say is that both are better than this. We’ve gotten to this point in part because Liz Truss started the process.
“And today’s measures are better, of course, than the protocol that Boris Johnson put in place, a protocol that he talked about and those things turned out not to be accurate.
“So you have a choice: you can be remembered for the great acts of statecraft you accomplished or you can risk looking like Nigel Farage.
I hope you choose to be remembered as a statesman.
Downing Street has indicated that there could be further votes in the coming weeks on the legal instruments needed to implement other elements of the framework.
However, there is frustration among some parliamentarians that Mr Sunak is resisting calls for a blanket vote on the entire framework document.
Conservative MP Peter Bone said he was “quite upset” by the government’s approach to a vote, having signaled that he might join Johnson in voting against this part of the deal.
“I’m really quite upset that the government is avoiding scrutiny of this, and on the brakes itself, it seems to fail all the tests,” Bone, who was deputy speaker of the House for three months last year, told Sky News. .
‘If that is the case, I will listen to the debate. I’m going to the meetings this morning, but if I had to vote right now, I should vote against it.’