Don’t create drama over Brexit deal, Rishi Sunak tells Tory MPs

  • By Becky Morton and David Wallace Lockhart
  • BBC Politics

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has urged his MPs not to create “some Westminster drama” as he sought to win their support for his new Brexit deal.

He asked backbench Tories to give the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) “time and space” to consider the deal.

The agreement with the EU aims to resolve issues with post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.

The DUP’s support will be key to restoring Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government.

The party has boycotted Stormont and prevented the devolved government from functioning due to concerns over the current arrangements for Northern Ireland.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the new deal goes “some way” towards addressing the party’s concerns, but some issues remain.

He said the party will take time to study the details and come to a “collective decision”.

Meanwhile, the European Research Group (ERG) of pro-Brexit Tory MPs, which heard from Sir Jeffrey at a meeting on Tuesday, has commissioned what it has called a “star chamber” of lawyers to scrutinize the deal.

ERG chairman Mark Francois said it could take about a fortnight or even longer for the group’s “legal eagles” to go through it “with an extremely fine tooth comb”.

He added that it was “sensible” for the Prime Minister to give the DUP time.

Mr Sunak addressed the 1922 committee of Tory backbenchers after visiting Northern Ireland to promote his deal.

He reportedly told MPs he had “spent a lot of time” with Sir Jeffrey.

“And I just want to say one thing to all of you: we should give him and the DUP time and space,” he said, adding that there was a “range of views” in the party.

“So let’s not push them for an instant answer,” Mr. Sunak added.

“Let’s also remember that the last thing the public wants is another Westminster drama.”

The response from Tory MPs to the Windsor Framework since it was announced on Monday has been largely positive.

After Sunak’s speech to the committee in 1922, an ally of former prime minister Boris Johnson said “he did a good job”, while another Brexiteer said the prime minister’s words had gone down very well.

Another Tory MP, who last week had been deeply skeptical that Sunak could reach an acceptable deal, told the BBC they should probably “eat humble pie” as it appeared the Prime Minister had done so.

The MP said the negotiators had “squared the circle” and the “Stormont brake” mechanism, which aims to give the Northern Ireland assembly more influence over how EU laws apply, was a creative solution that should be welcomed.

The Nationalist Party has welcomed the Windsor Framework, although it said the details still needed to be examined.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *