Major Tory rebellion fails to materialise as Sunak’s deal sails through

Writing for The Telegraph, Ms Patel said she voted against the Windsor Framework because it “is not good business for Britain or Northern Ireland”.

“The changes the government and the EU are talking about are little more than a thin veneer which, if scratched, will reveal the rotten wood of continued EU control over our territory,” she warned.

MPs voted on a Statutory Instrument (SI) approving the Stormont Brake, part of the overall deal that will allow Belfast to block new EU legislation.

Downing Street must come up with further measures in the coming weeks to implement other aspects of the deal, such as the “green lane” for goods.

A senior ERG member warned ministers the rebellion was not over and said the group would maintain its staunch opposition to the entire Windsor Pact.

“The very high level of abstentions today means around a third of Tory backbenches did not support the Stormont Brake,” they told The Telegraph.

“As several more SIs are likely to be needed to implement the broader Windsor framework, possibly even in the double digits, there will be much more discussion of all of this in Parliament over the next few months.”

DUP still against deal

The ongoing opposition is likely to be fueled by DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who insists his party will not return to Stormont after the vote.

He said Unionists wanted to end their years-long boycott of the Assembly, telling the Commons: “That’s where we want to go, but we have to get it right.”

Downing Street was bolstered ahead of the vote by support from senior Eurosceptics including John Baron and Ranil Jayawardena, two former Brexit “Spartans”.

Andrea Leadsom, a prominent pro-Brexit campaigner, described it as “a great deal” for which previous prime ministers “bit the EU’s arms off”.

Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield, summed up the mood of many Tories, describing the Pact as imperfect but “probably the best we’ve ever done”.

Sir Geoffrey Cox KC, a former Attorney General, suggested MPs should bank the deal and continue to press ministers to secure further improvements from Brussels.

“Why shouldn’t we at least agree to an improvement while also saying that it’s not the last and last word?” he told the Commons.

“I strongly commend the virtues and merits of this important and genuine staging post on the road to what is hoped to be a final resolution.”

“A giant step forward”

During a 90-minute debate, Northern Ireland Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said the agreement was “a tremendous step forward” which “I never thought was achievable”.

He insisted this would “restore the practical sovereignty of the UK as a whole” and largely end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the province.

But he has been confronted with Tory backbenchers who have accused the government of “overselling” the benefits of the deal, particularly at Stormont Brake.

The mechanism will allow the Belfast Assembly to oppose the introduction of new EU laws, although ultimately No 10 will decide whether to block them.

Conservative Eurosceptics fear ministers will never be willing to use the veto, unwilling to risk potential trade reprisals from Brussels.

“It’s a brake without pads,” said Mark Francois, ERG chairman. “I’m afraid the government has completely oversold it.”

Mr Heaton-Harris insisted the threshold the Government must meet in order to refuse to apply the brakes when asked to do so by Stormont has been set “exceptionally high”.

Tory fight

The debate came after a civil war broke out within the Tory party over whether to support the deal, with senior figures publicly butting heads.

Steve Baker, the Northern Ireland minister, accused Mr Johnson of acting like a “pound shop Nigel Farage” by opposing the pact as temperatures soared.

Mr Rees-Mogg, a close ally of the former PM, hit back that he would take such an insult “as a huge compliment”.

Meanwhile, David Davis, a former Brexit secretary, said Ms Truss’ rejection of the deal was hypocritical as it would fix the protocol she supported.

“She voted for Theresa May’s deal at Checkers, which created the problem that Rishi Sunak is now solving,” he said.

Mr Baker said both ex-premiers were “better than that” and suggested they misrepresented what the Protocol Act had achieved.

The former ERG chairman was booted from one of the organization’s WhatsApp groups after making the comments to broadcasters.


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