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‘Brexit hard man’ Steve Baker begs Eurosceptics to ‘bank’ new NI deal

Emotional Brexit ‘tough man’ Steve Baker pleads with Eurosceptics to ‘bank’ the new Northern Ireland deal and ‘move on’ as the DUP says it will ‘study’ the 119-page legal text but fails to condemn the packet

Self-proclaimed ‘Brexit tough man’ Steve Baker admitted he was ‘thrilled’ today when he urged the DUP and Eurosceptics to back the new Brexit deal.

The Northern Ireland minister called for “pragmatism” and said everyone should be willing to “bank” success.

The appeal came as the DUP gave a careful response to the package announced by Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon.

Leader Jeffrey Donaldson welcomed the “significant progress” but also warned that it was impossible to “hide” that EU laws will continue to apply in some sectors.

He insisted that the party will take “reasonable” time to study the details of the 119-page legal text, suggesting that further “clarification” might be needed.

However, the nuanced statement will give Sunak hope that the DUP will eventually go along with the plans, amid reports that they have already agreed to do so in private.

steve baker

Northern Ireland Minister Steve Baker (left) called for ‘pragmatism’, saying everyone should be willing to ‘bank’ success. DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson (left) said the party will study the details of the deal.

The DUP gave a careful response to the package announced by Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon.

The DUP gave a careful response to the package announced by Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon.

At a joint press conference this afternoon, Mr Sunak said they had made a “decisive breakthrough” and forged a “Windsor Framework”, named after the location of their talks.

He promised a “smooth flow of trade” between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, with UK VAT, customs and medicine rules applying to the province. He argued that the bare minimum of EU rules would be followed to avoid a hard border with the Republic: European judges would remain the final arbiter on that.

But a ‘Stormont Brake’ will mean laws cannot be imposed in the province if opposed by 30 assembly members from at least two parties. If the threshold is reached, they can ask the UK government to exercise a veto.

Changes to the withdrawal treaty will be made to enact the measures, another key DUP demand.

Sunak insisted that the deal may open a “new chapter” in ties with Brussels, although he acknowledged that the DUP will want to “consider the details” and that the government will “give them time and space to do so.”

The prime minister stated that a vote will take place in the House of Commons, but suggested that it might not happen quickly. The government has stated that it will drop the NI Protocol Bill as part of the review, against the wishes of many Eurosceptics. Ms von der Leyen suggested that the UK will now be allowed into the Horizon science scheme.

“I think we have found ways to end the uncertainty and challenge for the people of Northern Ireland,” Mr Sunak said.

Sir Jeffrey said after the announcement: “We welcome the publication of the outcome of the Government’s negotiations with the EU which ends a period of speculation and spin, often by those who know little about Northern Ireland.”

‘Overall, it is clear that significant progress has been made in a number of areas, while acknowledging that key issues of concern remain. There is no hiding the fact that, in some sectors of our economy, EU law is still applicable in Northern Ireland.

‘The DUP will want to study the details of what has been released today, as well as examine the details of any and all underlying legal texts. When necessary, we stand ready to engage with the Government to seek further clarification, reworking or changes as necessary.

“Ultimately, the party will now evaluate all of these proposed results and fixes against our seven tests, outlined in our 2022 Assembly Election Manifesto, to determine whether what has been released meets our tests and whether it respects and restores the location of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. ‘

Baker, a Brexit ‘Spartan’ during the Theresa May days, supported the deal after it was announced.

He admitted that even until yesterday he feared having to resign, but now he “enthusiastically” supported the prime minister’s deal.

‘I think it’s very important in politics to know when you’ve had a win-win solution. Support him and move forward,” Baker said.

“This is the time to deposit what is a radical improvement for the people of Northern Ireland…

‘There is always going to be something that some ideologue would condemn. Some trade unionists are so tough that I think they would put a moat between North and South.

But those ladies and gentlemen are never going to be satisfied with anything.