'Brexit hard man' Steve Baker begs Eurosceptics to 'bank' new NI deal

Emotional ‘Brexit hard man’ Steve Baker begs Eurosceptics to ‘bank’ new Northern Ireland deal and ‘move on’ as DUP says it will ‘study’ the 119-page legal text – but stops short of condemning the package

Self-styled ‘Brexit hard man’ Steve Baker admitted he was ’emotional’ today as he urged the DUP and Eurosceptics to back the new Brexit deal.

The Northern Ireland minister begged for ‘pragmatism’ saying everyone should be willing to ‘bank’ success.

The appeal came as the DUP gave a careful response to the package announced by Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon.

Leader Jeffrey Donaldson welcome ‘significant progress’ but also warned it was impossible to ‘disguise’ that EU laws will still apply in some sectors.

He insisted the party will take a ‘reasonable’ time to study the detail of the 119 pages of legal text, suggesting that further ‘clarification’ could be needed.

However, the nuanced statement will give Mr Sunak hope that the DUP will end up getting on board with the plans – amid reports that they have already privately agreed to do so.

Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker (left) begged for ‘pragmatism’ saying everyone should be willing to ‘bank’ success. DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson (left) said the party will study the detail of the deal

The DUP gave a careful response to the package announced by Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen this afternoon

At a joint press conference this afternoon, Mr Sunak said they had achieved a ‘decisive breakthrough’ and forged a ‘Windsor Framework’ – named after the location of their talks.

He promised ‘smooth flow of trade’ between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, with UK VAT, customs and medicines rules applying in the province. He argued that the minimum of EU rules would be followed to avoid a hard border with the Republic – European judges staying as the final arbiter on those. 

But a ‘Stormont Brake’ will mean laws cannot be forced on the province if opposed by 30 assembly members from at least two parties. If the threshold is met they can ask the UK government to wield a veto. 

Changes to the withdrawal treaty will be put through to enact the measures, another key demand of the DUP. 

What is in Rishi’s new ‘Windsor Framework’ for NI? 

Green lanes for trade: 

Goods destined from mainland Britain for Northern Ireland will travel through a new green lane, with a separate red lane for goods at risk of moving on to the EU. 

Food retailers like supermarkets, restaurants and wholesalers will no longer need hundreds of certificates for every lorry and we will end the situation where food made to UK rules could not be sent to and sold in Northern Ireland.

Taking back control of tax: 

The legal text of the of the NI protocol has been altered to make sure the UK has control of VAT and excise duty in Northern Ireland. 

Mr Sunak said the change would reduce alcohol duty ‘meaning our reforms to cut the cost of a pint in a pub will now apply in Northern Ireland’.

Medicines and pets:

UK medicine regulations will apply in Northern Ireland, and there will also be fewer controls on pets be transported to and from mainland Britain. 

Sovereignty guarantee: 

The Stormont Assembly, which has not sat since the DUP withdrew from its power-sharing executive in February last year, will gain new powers over the introduction of new EU trade laws that could have a large impact on trade.

Mr Sunak insisted the settlement can open a ‘new chapter’ in ties with Brussels, although he acknowledged the DUP will want to ‘consider the detail’ and the government will ‘give them time and space to do that’. 

The premier declared that a Commons vote will be held – but suggested it might not happen quickly. The government has declared it will drop the NI Protocol Bill as part of the overhaul, against the wishes of many Eurosceptics. Ms von der Leyen suggested that the UK will now be allowed into the Horizon science scheme.   

‘I believe we have found ways to end the uncertainty and challenge for the people of Northern Ireland,’ Mr Sunak said.

Sir Jeffrey said after the announcement: ‘We welcome the publication of the outcome of the Government’s negotiations with the EU which ends a period of speculation and spin, often from those who know little about Northern Ireland.

‘In broad terms it is clear that significant progress has been secured across a number of areas whilst also recognising there remain key issues of concern. There can be no disguising the fact that in some sectors of our economy EU law remains applicable in Northern Ireland.

‘The DUP will want to study the detail of what has been published today as well as examining the detail of any and all underpinning legal texts. Where necessary we stand ready to engage with the Government in order to seek further clarification, re-working or change as required.

‘Ultimately the party will now assess all these proposed outcomes and arrangements against our seven tests, outlined in our 2022 Assembly Election Manifesto, to determine whether what has been published meet our tests and whether it respects and restores Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.’

Mr Baker, a Brexit ‘spartan’ during Theresa May days, went into bat for the deal after it was announced.

He admitted that even up until yesterday he feared he might have to resign, but was now ‘enthusiastically’ supporting the PM’s deal.

‘I think it is very important in politics to know when you’ve had a win win solution for all sides. Bank it and move forwards,’ Mr Baker said.

‘This is the time to bank what is a radical improvement for the people of Northern Ireland…

‘There is always going to be something that some ideologue would condemn. Some unionists are so hard line I think they would put a moat between the North and the South.

‘But those ladies and gentlemen are never going to be satisfied by anything.’

Ms von der Leyen and Mr Sunak held around an hour and 45 minutes of talks in Windsor today

Source: Read Full Article