Boris Johnson today tore apart Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal on Northern Ireland warning it does not “take back control”. During a speech in Westminster, the former PM said he will find it “very difficult” to vote for the Windsor Framework struck with the EU by his successor but one on Monday.
Mr Johnson also insisted it was a mistake to jettison his controversial legislation to override the Northern Ireland Protocol.
And the charismatic 58-year-old made a rallying cry to seize Brexit benefits, vowing to continue pushing for the UK to take advantage of its freedoms away from the EU.
Mr Johnson said: “I’m conscious I’m not going to be thanked for saying this, but I think it is my job to do so: we must be clear about what is really going on here.
“This is not about the UK taking back control, and although there are easements this is really a version of the solution that was being offered last year to Liz Truss when she was foreign secretary.
“This is the EU graciously unbending to allow us to do what we want to do in our own country, not by our laws but by theirs.
“This deal helps to accomplish the key objective that I spoke of, it acts as a drag anchor on divergence which is the point of Brexit.
“I’m going to find it very difficult to vote for something like this myself, because I believed we should’ve done something very different. No matter how much plaster came off the ceiling in Brussels.
“I hope that it will work and I also hope that if it doesn’t work we will have the guts to employ that (Northern Ireland Protocol) Bill again, because I have no doubt at all that that is what brought the EU to negotiate seriously.
“In the meantime I’ll continue to campaign for what I think of as Brexit.
“Because this is nothing if it’s not a Brexit Government, and Brexit is nothing if we don’t do things differently. We need to take advantage of it and need to be seen to take advantage of it.”
During his speech, Mr Johnson also insisted he was forced out as prime minister the Tories were “only a handful of points” behind Labour in the polls.
He said: “I just want to point out purely for accuracy, when I stepped down we were only a handful of points behind the Labour Party at that moment. I’m just saying that.”
It comes after Mr Sunak on Monday insisted his agreement “puts beyond all doubt that we’ve now taken back control”, echoing Mr Johnson’s slogan.
The pact removes trade barriers across the Irish Sea and hands a “veto” to politicians in Stormont on EU law.
But it still includes a role for the European Court of Justice in what could be a key sticking point for hardline Brexiteers.
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