Boris Johnson: Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal ‘not acceptable’

Boris Johnson, seen jogging on Wednesday morning, voted against Rishi Sunak’s deal - Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph
Boris Johnson, seen jogging on Wednesday morning, voted against Rishi Sunak’s deal - Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph

Boris Johnson voted against Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal on Wednesday after telling The Telegraph the proposals would keep the province “captured by the EU legal order” and were “not acceptable”.

Liz Truss, Priti Patel and Sir Iain Duncan Smith also all confirmed that they would vote against the deal, meaning at least three former Tory leaders – Mr Johnson, Ms Truss and Sir Iain – opposed the plan.

Mr Johnson told The Telegraph: “The proposed arrangements would mean either that Northern Ireland remained captured by the EU legal order – and was increasingly divergent from the rest of the UK – or they would mean that the whole of the UK was unable properly to diverge and take advantage of Brexit.

“That is not acceptable. I will be voting against the proposed arrangements. Instead, the best course of action is to proceed with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill and make sure that we take back control.”

The decision saw Mr Johnson reprise the role he adopted during the final year of Theresa May’s premiership, when he put himself at the front of a group of Tory MPs voting against her Brexit proposals.

But MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Windsor Framework as it was backed by 515 to 29 – a majority of 486.

A total of 22 Tory MPs voted against the deal along with six DUP MPs and one independent MP. Mr Johnson, Ms Truss and Sir Iain were among the Tory rebels as Mr Sunak got his deal through the Commons without having to rely on the support of opposition parties.

It paves the way for the framework to be formally adopted by the EU and the UK at a meeting between James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, and Maros Sefcovic, the vice president of the European Commission, in London on Friday.

The vote was on the “Stormont brake”, a measure that would give the Northern Ireland Assembly powers to reject new EU laws being imposed from Brussels.

The province has a more interconnected relationship with the EU since Brexit than the rest of the UK, given agreements to keep the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland open and free of customs checks.

However there are varying interpretations about how legally watertight the brake is, with the European Research Group of Brexiteer Tory MPs claiming on Tuesday that it was “likely to be useless in practice”.