Sunak seeks to secure backing from Northern Ireland parties for post-Brexit deal

Rishi Sunak will continue to push forward with his new post-Brexit deal today as he seeks to convince politicians from Northern Ireland it will solve ongoing issues with trade and sovereignty.

The prime minister signed the Windsor Framework on Monday, alongside European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, to make changes to the much debated Northern Ireland protocol, negotiated and signed by his predecessor Boris Johnson.

The plan includes measures to create green and red trade routes over the Irish Sea, make changes to VAT and excise duties, and a settlement on medicines.

There is also the introduction of the so-called Stormont brake, designed to allow the Northern Ireland Assembly to block any EU law changes from coming into force in the region.

How have MPs reacted to the new post-Brexit Northern Ireland deal?

The deal could be the key to getting the Assembly up and running again, after the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) refused to form an executive in protest at the protocol.

But the DUP are undecided on their position, with party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson telling MPs “significant progress has been secured across a number of areas”, but “key issues of concern” remained.

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“My party will want to study the detail of what has been published,” he added, saying it would be compared to the party’s seven tests for an acceptable agreement.

On Tuesday morning, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly refused to rule out the possibility a DUP veto of the Windsor Framework.

Asked repeatedly if the unionists could scupper the deal, Mr Cleverly told Sky News it is “ultimately is about making sure the people of Northern Ireland are served properly” by getting Stormont up and running again – and that it would be “hugely disappointing” if the DUP continue to refuse to sit.

Pushed again, he said he “refused to be drawn” on the question but did not deny the possibility of a DUP veto.

“The DUP are passionate representatives of their communities in Northern Ireland. They raised a number of concerns about the implementation of the protocol. We listened very, very carefully and we have systematically gone through to resolve the issues,” he said.

Brexit deal ‘spectacular success’

The deal was widely welcomed by the most vocal Brexiteers on the Conservative benches, with David Davis calling it a “spectacular success”.

Former PM Theresa May also said: “The best move now is for everybody across this House to support this settlement.”

But one senior Tory Leaver, Sir Edward Leigh, said unless the deal got the NI Assembly up and running again, “it is pretty futile – indeed it might be downright dangerous”.

He added: “I can assure [Mr Sunak] many of his colleagues on these benches are watching the DUP very carefully and we will go where they go.”

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What the new Brexit deal means, and what happens next.

Mr Johnson has yet to make his thoughts known, with a source close to him saying for now he “continues to study and reflect on the government’s proposals”.

But last week, he told Sky News his own Northern Ireland Protocol Bill – overriding parts of the Brexit deal unilaterally – was still the “best way forward”, despite concerns it could be unlawful.

Mr Sunak had already paused the bill’s passage through parliament, and has now confirmed it would now be dropped altogether, in return for the EU dropping legal proceedings against the UK.

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It is not yet clear when MPs will get to vote on the framework, but Mr Sunak confirmed on Monday it would come “at an appropriate time”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also said his party would back the plan.

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