Sunak, Boris and Truss set for awkward showdown over dinner
MPs vote through Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal
Rishi Sunak is braced for an awkward dinner with former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, just weeks after they intervened in an attempt to scupper his Brexit deal. The Prime Minister will meet his two predecessors at a gala dinner in Northern Ireland on Wednesday evening to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
All living ex-PMs have been invited to the dinner, which will be the first time the three leaders have met since Ms Truss and Mr Johnson jeopardised Mr Sunak’s Windsor Framework.
The two former prime ministers joined a rebellion over Mr Sunak’s Brexit deal, but the mutiny was not enough to impact the outcome of the vote, with the deal sailing through the Commons by 515 votes to 29.
The Windsor Framework was introduced to resolve longstanding issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, but concerns were raised over whether or not it would do enough to fix the problems.
Mr Johnson said the new arrangements are “not acceptable”, as they would mean the “whole of the UK” was unable “properly to diverge and take advantage of Brexit”.
A spokesman for Ms Truss said: “After examining the detail of the Stormont Brake and Windsor Framework, Liz has decided to vote against the Statutory Instrument this afternoon.”
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson said: “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 today.
“Instead, the best course of action is to proceed with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, and make sure that we take back control.”
The Prime Minister is currently in Northern Ireland to celebrate the anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
US President Joe Biden flew to Ireland to coincide with the anniversary last week.
Speaking ahead of the dinner, Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton Harris is expected to warn that a “small minority…seek to drag Northern Ireland back to its darkest days”, adding that they will “never succeed”.
He is set to hail Northern Ireland as a “thriving centre of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship”, insisting that the Government “remains wholly committed to protecting and upholding” the Good Friday Agreement, which brought an end to the Troubles in 1998.
The Democratic Unionist Party is still staging a boycott of the Stormont Assembly in protest of post-Brexit trading agreements.
The boycott, which prevents power-sharing in Northern Ireland, is seen to be a threat to the peace.
The DUP has argued that Mr Sunak’s Windsor Framework does not do enough to protect the union, as EU law still applies in Northern Ireland under the deal.
Party leader Jeffrey Donaldson said there are “key areas of concern” in the deal which “require further clarification, re-working and change”.
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