MPs approve Rishi Sunak’s new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland by 515 to 29 votes

Author: Yuvi March 22, 2023

MPs overwhelmingly approved Rishi Sunak’s new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland today as the Prime Minister survived a Tory revolt in the House of Commons.

The PM saw a key part of his Windsor Framework endorsed by the Commons as MPs voted by 515 to 29 in favor of the so-called ‘Stormont Brake’.

It came after Mr Sunak had spent the day desperately scrambling to contain a Conservative backbench rebellion after Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Priti Patel vowed to oppose the plan.

The PM insisted the Windsor Framework is a ‘good deal’ for Northern Ireland despite a series of Tory big beasts joining the DUP in opposing the new arrangements.

Speaking at PMQs, Mr Sunak had argued the package would protect the province’s ‘place in our previous union’.

Earlier Mr Johnson, who had already voiced concerns about the deal Mr Sunak brokered with Brussels, confirmed he would be going against the ‘Stormont Brake’ in the Commons.

Sources close to Ms Truss said she had concluded the proposal ‘does not satisfactorily resolve the issues thrown up by the Protocol and almost fatally impacts on the UK’s ability to diverge from EU rules and regulations’.

Former Cabinet ministers Ms Patel, Sir Iain Duncan Smith and Jacob Rees-Mogg also vowed to vote against the Windsor Framework.

And senior figures in the European Research Group of Tory eurosceptics had urged its members to rebel.

In a sign of rising Conservative tensions ahead of this afternoon’s vote, Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker – who once described himself as the ‘Brexit hard man’ – warned this morning that Mr Johnson risks looking like a ‘pound shop Nigel Farage’.

He appealed for colleagues to ‘bank the win’ and move on.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has already announced he will be giving the final go-ahead for the Windsor Framework at a meeting with the EU’s Maros Sefcovic on Friday.

Rishi Sunak insisted the Windsor Framework is a ‘good deal’ for Northern Ireland despite a series of big beasts joining the DUP in the first crunch vote this afternoon

Priti Patel Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson (right) and Priti Patel (left) are voting against the Windsor Framework today

Sources close to Liz Truss said she had concluded the proposal 'does not satisfactorily resolve the issues thrown up by the Protocol and almost fatally impacts on the UK's ability to diverge from EU rules and regulations'

Sources close to Liz Truss said she had concluded the proposal ‘does not satisfactorily resolve the issues thrown up by the Protocol and almost fatally impacts on the UK’s ability to diverge from EU rules and regulations’

Mr Johnson – who is enduring a four-hour Partygate showdown with the Privileges Committee this afternoon amid the Brexit drama – said in a statement this morning that the terms are ‘not acceptable’.

‘I will be voting 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 that we take back control.’

Which Tories are rebelling against Rishi Sunak’s Brexit plan?

MPs are voting on Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework this afternoon.

Tories who have said they will vote against it are:

Boris JohnsonLiz TrussSimon ClarkeJames DuddridgeSir Iain Duncan SmithDavid JonesPriti PatelPeter BoneAndrea JenkynsMark Francois Nadine Dorries Jacob Rees-Mogg Craig Mackinlay

Asked by the SNP at PMQs whether he was worried about his predecessors’ opposition, Mr Sunak replied: ‘The Windsor Framework represents a good deal for the people and families and businesses of Northern Ireland. It restores the balance of the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and ensures Northern Ireland’s place in our precious union.’

Outside the chamber, the PM’s press secretary declined to say whether Mr Sunak was disappointed about the decision by Mr Johnson and Ms Truss to oppose the Windsor Framework.

‘I am not going to comment on individual MPs and their voting intentions,’ the spokeswoman said.

She said Mr Sunak ‘believes this is the right deal’.

The spokeswoman dodged a question on whether Mr Sunak had spoken to his predecessors, saying: ‘He has been engaging with colleagues from across the House on this matter.’

The DUP had already said its eight MPs would vote against the regulation to implement the Stormont Brake as it continues to seek changes to the overall Windsor Framework.

Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he would engage with the Government for ‘clarification, reworking and change’.

‘I have consistently indicated that fundamental problems remain notwithstanding progress made,’ he tweeted.

‘Consequently there is not a sustainable basis at this stage to enable us to restore Stormont.

‘We will vote against the proposal today & continue to engage with the Government to secure clarification, reworking & change.

‘Our consultation also continues & we are giving people & businesses the opportunity to have their voices heard.’

Mr Johnson, who agreed the original Northern Ireland Protocol with Brussels as a way to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, had indicated earlier this month that he would find it ‘very difficult’ to support the Windsor agreement.

The European Research Group (ERG) said the Stormont Brake, which is intended to provide a veto on the imposition of new EU regulations in Northern Ireland, is ‘practically useless’ following an analysis of the framework by its ‘star chamber’ of lawyers.

The DUP’s opposition to the Windsor Framework suggests that an early return to powersharing at Stormont is highly unlikely.

The Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly have been suspended since the DUP walked out last year in protest at the way the Protocol was operating, saying it weakened Northern Ireland’s position in the UK.

Quizzed by journalists in Whitehall this morning, Mr Baker had urged Mr Johnson not to risk becoming ‘a pound shop Nigel Farage’ and also appealed to Ms Truss to come on board.

‘Both of them should be backing the Windsor Framework today,’ he said.

‘What I would say is they are both better than this. We’ve partly reached this point thanks to Liz Truss setting the process in train.

‘And today’s measures are better, of course, than the protocol that Boris Johnson put in place, a protocol which he spoke about and those things turned out not to be accurate.

‘So he has a choice: he can be remembered for the great acts of statecraft that he achieved or he can risk looking like a pound shop Nigel Farage.

‘I hope he chooses to be remembered as a statesman.’

Downing Street has indicated that there could be further votes in the weeks ahead on the statutory instruments needed to implement other elements of the framework.

However, there is frustration among some MPs that Mr Sunak is resisting calls for an overall vote on the whole framework document.

Conservative backbencher Peter Bone said he is ‘pretty miffed’ about the Government’s approach to a vote.

‘I’m really pretty miffed that the Government is avoiding scrutiny on this, and on the brake itself, it seems to fail all the tests,’ Mr Bone, who was deputy leader of the House for three months last year, told Sky News .

‘If that is the case, I’m going to listen to the debate. I’m going to go to meetings this morning, but, if I had to vote at this moment in time, I should vote against.’

Author: Yuvi

My name is Yuvi, I work as Sub Editor at

22 March, 2023, 8:13 pm

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