PMQs: Keir Starmer grills Rishi Sunak on Norther Ireland protocol
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The pressure on Rishi Sunak over his Brexit talks with the EU is mounting as his predecessor Liz Truss has warned that she will join rebels to vote down a compromise solution with the EU over Northern Ireland. The intervention comes after Home Secretary Suella Braverman, a former Brexit spartan who opposed Theresa May’s compromises, made a veiled threat last night to resign from the government over the issue.
The Prime Minister has already taken fire from Boris Johnson who, like Ms Truss, is demanding he sticks with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which would guarantee the province’s sovereignty within the UK.
A senior member of the powerful European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Brexiteer MPs has warned privately that the issue is now becoming a “trigger” on Mr Sunak’s continuing leadership of the Tories with doubts growing that he can turn their fortunes around.
The MP told Express.co.uk: “If we continue to be 20 plus points behind inthe polls with no signs of movement colleagues are going to continue to grow increasingly nervous.
“This issue could be a trigger for them to do something about it.”
Ms Truss, who was removed ina coup by Sunak supporters after just 49 days in Downing Street, has already been outspoken on a number of issues.
She joined Mr Johnson in demanding the UK sends fighter jets to Ukraine in its bid to defeat Putin’s Russian invasion.
The former Prime Minister has also been highly critical of Mr Sunak’s high tax strategy which critics believe is destroying economic growth with the Budget just weeks away.
Recently she also applied pressure to take a more robust approach to China with a major speech in Japan.
Sources close to Ms Truss have now told the Telegraph that “she will oppose any agreement that does not go as far as the Protocol Bill she drew up while Foreign Secretary.”
It is another blow to Mr Sunak who is facing ministerial resignations and a rebellion by around 100 of his own MPs.
Yesterday in PMQs he was forced in questioning from Sir Keir Starmer to concede there will be a vote on any deal.
He also set out three pledges on the agreement which included protecting Northern Ireland’s sovereignty which was seen as a victory for Brexiteer Conservative MPs.
It is understood that a compromise deal he had reached after taking control of the talks from Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has now been shelved because of oppositon from the main unionist party in Northern Ireland, the DUP, and their ERG allies in the Conservative Party.
Meanwhile, following DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson speaking to them on Monday evening, the ERG has put forward its own proposal to Downing Street for a deal.
They want an end to the European Court of Justice oversight in Northern Ireland, something the EU opposes.
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