The House of Commons has succeeded in passing the main part of Rishi Sunak’s post-Brexit deal, despite a rebellion by the DUP and a small group of Tory hardliners.
The vast majority of MPs backed the Prime Minister’s Protocol settlement agreement by backing the so-called “Stormont Brakes” to veto new EU rules in Northern Ireland.
MPs voted in favor of the regulations to apply Stormont’s brakes by 515 to 29, with a majority of 486.
The DUP voted against the deal and the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteer Conservative supporters had “strongly recommended” its members to oppose the Windsor deal.
Former Tory leaders Boris Johnson and Liz Truss were among the rebels who voted against the deal struck by Mr Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
In the infighting of Brexiteers, Northern Ireland Secretary Steve Baker attacked Johnson’s opposition and said he risked sounding like “Nigel Farage’s pound shop”.
Mr Baker – a former senior ERG figure – was said to have been kicked out of the group’s WhatsApp group over the insult. Mr Farage tweeted: “I gave Steve Baker a government job and stop being a Brexiteer. What a cheat this guy is.”
Joking about the feud, Jacob Rees-Mogg, an ally of Johnson, told the House of Commons: “I would take that as a great compliment. I would like to be the Woolworth of Nigel Farragese.”
Earlier in the House of Commons, Baker had pleaded with the DUP to accept concessions and restore power-sharing in Belfast. “[Sir Jeffrey] He knows exactly what he and his colleagues need to do to help me serve him… That is, of course, to restore the institutions that have been delegated.”
ERG chairman Marc François said 30 Tory MPs attended the group’s pre-vote meeting, which was delivered by Sir Geoffrey Donaldson, the DUP leader – who withdrew from power-sharing in Stormont because of protocol.
Mr François said the Sunak deal had been “rushed and oversold” and said: “The fact that the DUP has come out so strongly against it means the deal didn’t go far enough”.
Stormont’s brakes will allow a minority of politicians in the Northern Ireland Assembly to report concerns about new EU laws in Northern Ireland, a move that could result in the UK government vetoing its introduction.
While the vote on Stormont’s brakes is only one part of the prime minister’s agreement with Brussels, read it Number 10 as Parliament has its say in the entire agreement.
In a statement, Mr Johnson claimed Mr Sunak’s arrangements mean either Northern Ireland “remains occupied by the EU legal order” or the whole of the UK is unable to disagree and benefit from Brexit. He said, “This is not acceptable.”
It is understood that Ms Truss believes the new agreement “does not solve the problems satisfactorily” and “fatally affects” the UK’s ability to vary EU regulations.
Urging the Tory and DUP rebels to accept the deal, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris described it as “a powerful change that gives the UK a veto over dynamic alignment with EU rules”.
Mr François insisted Stormont’s brake was not a “veto” but a “avenue to arbitration” with the EU over goods rules.
Mr Heaton Harris – his former ERG ally – replied: “First, it’s a veto. Second, it’s a path to arbitration. And third, it removes any ECJ element relevant to that decision. So I think we’ve already made Some of the things he and I have carried over the years.”
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