Brexiteer compares NI politicians who accept Sunak deal to Nazi collaborators
A leading Brexiteer has claimed that politicians in Northern Ireland who accept Rishi Sunak’s post-Brexit deal with the EU would be like Nazi collaborators.
Baroness Kate Hoey made the remarkable claim after an attempt by the DUP to block a key part of the revised Northern Ireland Protocol deal was heavily defeated in the Lords.
Peers rejected by 227 votes to 14 a motion to thwart regulations implementing the so-called Stormont brake, which enables politicians in Belfast to trigger a veto over new EU rules in the region.
Baroness Hoey – an ardent Brexit supporter and former Labour MP – argued politicians returning to Stormont under the “colony” of the EU would be like Nazi collaborators under the Vichy regime in wartime France.
The non-affiliated peer said: “There are people in Northern Ireland, leading politicians, who say, and it’s true, that Northern Ireland has now become a form of colony. The EU’s first kind of colony.”
“If Stormont goes back with the present Windsor Framework, they in fact would be almost like what happened during the war with the Vichy government, where all those MLAs [Members of the Legislative Assembly] would be collaborators with a kind of colonial government.”
Baroness Hoey added: “Taking foreign laws from a foreign legislature, governing much of our economy in Northern Ireland and keeping us in a foreign customs code whereby GB, Great Britain, our country, where our capital is, becomes a third country, becomes our foreign country – it’s just not acceptable.”
It comes after the statutory instrument on the post-Brexit deal passed comfortably in the Commons last week – despite DUP opposition and a Tory backbench rebellion that included former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss.
The Stormont brake mechanism was a central plank of the Windsor Framework agreed between Rishi Sunak and the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, designed to ease trading issues with the protocol.
The updated pact was formally signed off at a meeting in London last week, ahead of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement peace deal.
No 10 says the deal removes the Irish Sea trade border and strips out hundreds of pages of EU trade law, while the brake provided a “powerful new ongoing democratic safeguard”.
But the DUP has refused to return to powersharing in Belfast, arguing the latest agreement still leaves Northern Ireland subject to rules from Brussels, and dismissed the Stormont brake as “convoluted” and ineffective.
DUP peer Lord McCrea said: “This brake couldn’t stop a tricycle – never mind the EU juggernaut travelling down the track. I do not believe that my party could re-enter an assembly which would require us to work for the destruction of the union by implementing foreign laws in our own country.”
Former leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Baroness Ritchie argued the “greatest lack of democracy” in Northern Ireland was the absence of an assembly and executive and urged the DUP to return to Stormont.
Labour’s former Northern Ireland secretary Lord Hain warned: “I do worry about the vacuum that has opened up because politics is not functioning. When politics doesn’t function in Northern Ireland, then darker forces move in.”
Tory frontbencher Lord Caine told the DUP that “we genuinely risk making the pursuit of the perfect the sworn enemy of the very good”.