‘Not taking back control’: Boris Johnson attacks Rishi Sunak’s Northern Ireland dealMarch 2, 2023
- Boris Johnson has criticised Rishi Sunak’s Brexit agreement which he struck with Brussels this week.
- Johnson, in his first post-PM speech, said he doesn’t think he can vote for it.
- The deal between the UK and EU aims to resolve the border issue between EU member Ireland and the UK territory of Northern Ireland.
- The deal was a ploy by Brussels to keep Britain bound to the single market, Johnson said.
London: Boris Johnson has criticised Rishi Sunak’s Brexit agreement, struck with Brussels this week, and said that while he hopes it works, he doesn’t think he can vote for it.
In his first speech in the UK since losing the Prime Ministership last year, Johnson told Brand Finance’s Global Soft Power summit that the deal was not “taking back control”, the slogan of the Vote Leave campaign that Johnson headed.
Former UK prime minister Boris Johnson surfaces to attack current PM. Credit:Getty
Rather, Johnson said the deal, announced this week, was a ploy by Brussels to keep Britain bound to the single market.
“I’m going to find it very difficult to vote for something like this myself because I believe that we should have done something different,” Johnson said.
“We must be clear about what is really going on here. This is not about the UK taking back control … This is the EU graciously unbending to allow us to do what we want in our own country. Not by our laws, but by theirs.”
The deal struck on Monday aims to replace the Northern Ireland protocol that Johnson struck in 2020 shortly after his landslide election victory on the promise to Get Brexit Done.
Under the protocol, checks were imposed on goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is inside the UK’s single market but under the Good Friday Agreement has an invisible border with Ireland which is part of the EU.
That angered unionists in Northern Ireland who boycotted the Northern Ireland Assembly in protest.
Johnson conceded that the arrangements he struck had left those in Northern Ireland disenfranchised.
“It’s all my fault,” he said.
Under Sunak’s Windsor Framework, the majority of goods will be sent to Northern Ireland will require no customs certificates and only goods deemed in danger of flowing through to the EU via Ireland would require checks returning the bulk of trade to the seamless arrangements that existed before Brexit.
Johnson repeatedly referred to his short-lived premiership, and said that even though he did not understand the rationale for the fines handed out to him over the Partygate scandal, they were an example of how the rule is applied to all in the UK, compared to lesser democratic countries.
The civil servant who investigated the numerous parties held in Number 10 during the pandemic lockdowns, Sue Gray, sensationally quit her job in the Cabinet Office on Thursday to serve as chief of staff to the Labour leader Keir Starmer, who is leading in the polls.
Johnson loyalist and arch-Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said Gray’s report into Partygate looked like a “left-wing stitch up against a Tory Prime Minister.”
“I think it very, very unlikely I’ll be doing a big job in politics again, I’ve done a lot,” he said.
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