UNITED KINGDOM: As Boris Johnson started a strong intervention urging him to take a firmer position with Brussels, Rishi Sunak was forewarned that more than 100 Tory MPs may mutiny over an agreement with the EU to help break the post-Brexit gridlock in Northern Ireland.
Government sources claim that the weekend’s difficult talks in Downing Street on updating the Northern Ireland protocol have not yet resulted in a breakthrough, adding to the pressure on the prime minister.
They issued a warning that the anticipated timeline—which called for an agreement to be revealed on Monday and a Commons vote on Tuesday—was in danger of changing. “We’re ready to go, but the delay was caused by uncertainty regarding the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) and Tory backbenchers’ resistance,” an insider claimed.
On Sunday, there was a pushback in response to information leaking about purported UK concessions and a demand from Brussels that Sunak drops a contentious law intended to unilaterally undo some Brexit arrangements in Northern Ireland.
Other Tories immediately joined Johnson’s side in the hours following his intervention. Former UK chief Brexit negotiator David Frost emphasized there was “no deadline” for discussions on revising the protocol.
The protocol bill, according to the previous levelling-up secretary, Simon Clarke, “remains a simple way to ensure all parts of our country are treated fairly.” Simon Clarke indicated he would not support “anything that keeps Northern Ireland subject to EU law or in the single market.”
The European Research Group, a hardline group of Brexit supporters, is expected to gather on Tuesday to debate the specifics of any alleged concessions made by the UK, according to the reports.
Following their meeting with Sunak on Friday in Belfast, the DUP’s leader warned that the proposed proposal “currently falls short of what would be acceptable.” Since then, the DUP has been silent.
Downing Street worries about a three-pronged onslaught from the party, Johnson’s supporters, and the ERG even though it believes their strategy passes the DUP’s seven standards.
Also Read: Rishi Sunak in Belfast for NI Protocol Conversation with Stormont Leaders