EX-PM Boris Johnson has warned Rishi Sunak not to neglect Brexit with his deal to restore power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
His successor is drumming up support for his project with an EU charm offensive that he hasn’t forgotten.
Most Cabinet ministers don’t even know everything in his draft – but The Sun on Sunday can exclusively reveal key details.
Crucially, it will give the Northern Ireland Assembly “real power” over EU laws.
This is a key demand from unionists who have sparked a crisis with the collapse of the assembly.
They are also upset about trade barriers with mainland Britain.
But they fear a new deal could see Mr Sunak drop threats to wreck the Brexit deal if Brussels refuses to compromise.
Many Tory MPs have already broken cover to support the DUP, warning they will rebel against anything that gives the EU control of Northern Ireland.
And Mr Johnson fired his warning shot – in a move that will affect Downing Street.
A source close to the former Prime Minister said: “His general thought is that it would be a huge mistake to drop the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.”
But Mr Johnson is keeping his powder dry criticizing Mr Sunak’s actual plan until he has seen the text of the deal.
Echoing Mr Johnson, former Brexit Secretary James Duddridge told The Sun on Sunday: “This is a Brexit government.
“It’s not a government at all if it doesn’t deliver a real Brexit.”
And a longtime Brexiteer added: “No10 are obviously worried about the DUP – they will be even more worried about Boris.
He gained Theresa May’s lead over Europe and he might just decide he could do it again.”
Yesterday, Mr Sunak struggled to calm frenzied expectations that an agreement was just days away.
At the Munich Security Conference in Germany, he said: “There are still challenges to be overcome.
“We have not solved all of these problems. There is no deal that has been made. There is an understanding of what needs to be done.”
The Prime Minister later met European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the summit for “positive” talks on plans to change the Brexit deal.
A spokesman for No10 said: “They agreed that there had been very good progress in finding solutions.
“Intense work is still needed at the authority and ministerial level in the coming days.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol Act is a tough law drafted under Mr Johnson that would see Britain unilaterally denounce the provincial agreement.
It has been put on hold by the Sunak government while it tries to get a new deal.
Tory MPs have privately warned Northern Ireland that there could be sectarian violence if a dud deal goes through.
Downing Street is hoping to get a deal in a matter of weeks, in time for the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
But a DUP insider warned them to tread carefully and “take your time to get it right.”
They added: “The consequences of doing the wrong thing could lead to the end of decentralization.”
A No10 spokesman said the plan to resolve the deadlock will pass three key tests – bringing down trade barriers with the mainland while protecting the union itself and the Good Friday Agreement.
what you need to know
What is the problem in Northern Ireland?
THE protocol keeps the province in the EU single market, which means more goods controls between NI and GB.
But the DUP ended power-sharing over the deal and left no government.
And what is Sunak’s plan to solve it?
THE PM’s plan is believed to include red and green lanes dropping GB-NI controls.
The NI Assembly will have a say on EU laws affecting the province.
The European Court of Justice is slowed down.
https://www.the-sun.com/news/7433634/boris-johnson-brexit-rishi-sunak/ Boris Johnson warns Rishi Sunak not to soften on Brexit with his Northern Ireland ‘fix’