Wed. Mar 29th, 2023


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Sunak facing no confidence vote as 100 Tory MPs will rebel over Brexit

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Brexit: Rishi Sunak says there is ‘no deal’

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Rishi Sunak has been warned that he may face a vote of no confidence if he does not shelve his plans for a deal with the EU to solve issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Prime Minister is currently locked in talks with the EU over the protocol as both sides try to find a solution to ongoing issues. He has been urged to shelve “plan A” – which is thought to involve a continued role for the European Court of Justice in policing the protocol – if he wants to avoid a mutiny from his own MPs.

Up to 100 Tory MPs, largely from the European Research Group – a powerful backbench group of Brexiteers – are set to rebel unless Mr Sunak restores Northern Ireland’s sovereignty.

A deal was meant to be announced today, but a senior member of the ERG said it is “clear that plan A has stalled” as a result of the Democratic Unionist Party’s opposition to the deal.

The source said: “We could have told Downing Street for free that it is difficult to find an agreement which the DUP would agree to and in fact, we did tell them. But apparently, they weren’t listening and have only just realised that it is difficult to get the DUP to agree.

“These are people, after all, who in their younger days would check the underside of their car each morning to make sure there wasn’t a bomb, so they aren’t easily bullied. What is obvious is that there was a putative agreement but nobody asked the DUP. Now – as you at the Express revealed yesterday – they are talking about if there will be an agreement not when.

“Our understanding is that the Government has asked the southern Irish to try and woo the DUP. Which just shows you how bad things have got. It doesn’t say much for the talks on Friday.”

Meanwhile, Mr Sunak is gathering his Cabinet for talks this morning amid warnings that ministers could walk out over the deal.

Mr Sunak has been compared to Theresa May – who resigned after she could not get her party to unite in support of her Brexit deal – in his handling of the Northern Ireland Protocol deal.

Speaking after Home Secretary Suella Braverman staged an intervention on the issue, another ERG source said: “Braverman second cabinet member to intervene. Serious cabinet tensions- no surprise when you don’t keep even them in the loop. Sunak has obviously gone to the school of May in how to run a government!”

Ms Braverman and Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt both intervened on the issue indicating their support for former PM Boris Johnson.

Over the weekend, Mr Johnson reminded the Prime Minister of the existence of his Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which could torpedo the hated legislation. A source close to the former PM said it was his view that “it would be a great mistake to drop the Northern Ireland protocol bill”.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson – leader of the DUP – is due to address the ERG at 6pm but is understood to have already indicated he will not consider any agreement until he “has seen a proper legal text.”

The senior ERG source said: “So far there has been no text and no details. The Government is obviously now taking stock now Downing street realises that they cannot simply railroad through a deal. They were obviously hoping for a quick win but instead, they have got themselves into a mess.”

Brexit Cabinet rift as Braverman backs Boris over EU negotiations [REVEAL]
Brexiteers back Boris with former PM ready to twist Sunak’s arm on EU [INSIGHT]
Boris slammed for hypocrisy as Sunak challenged to stand up to EU [REACTION]

Former Brexit minister Jacob Rees-Mogg also compared Mr Sunak with Mrs May, saying: “It’s quite surprising because this is very similar to what happened with Theresa May.

“So a story would appear in The Times and Downing Street would say ‘no, this isn’t quite right, it isn’t at all right’. And then a week or two would go by and it would turn out to be completely right and they would hope that people would just conveniently fall in behind the announced policy.

“And life doesn’t work like that. It’s important to get support for it first before you finalise the details and that doesn’t seem to have been done here.

A senior Conservative source said Mr Sunak is “in trouble”, adding: “There’s a poll out today saying we are 27 points behind. You can’t keep having this deficit to Labour without the parliamentary party at some point soon losing its nerve. That’s a reality.”

They warned: “The Northern Ireland negotiations have not helped and in fact if he pushes ahead with plan A then it might trigger something.”

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