Rishi Sunak makes Brexit history
Something odd happened today - which I never thought I would see.
Which is that a British prime minister announced a Brexit deal, and not a single MP accused him in the House of Commons of selling out the UK or betraying patriots.
In fact what happened was stranger still.
Before Sunak announced his reforms to the Northern Ireland Protocol, or what he calls the Windsor Framework, Northern Ireland's DUP and the Brexiters in his own party said the main condition for their support was that he had to persuade the EU to end the European Court of Justice's jurisdiction in the Province.
Well in that respect, Sunak achieved not very much.
Northern Ireland remains in the EU single market for goods, and the ECJ remains the arbiter of whether its businesses and citizens are following the rules.
So you'd have expected Sunak to face a barrage of criticism.
But so far Sunak has been love bombed by some Brexiters - like our guest Steve Baker, once the hard man of Brexit and now apparently Mr Softy.
And as for the DUP's leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, he's been broadly positive, while reserving his overall position.
What on earth is going on? Has an epidemic of sanity suddenly infected parliament.
One explanation is that even MPs are human, and like most of the country they're exhausted by years of animosity directed at the EU and each other.
But more importantly, Sunak in other respects probably achieved more than most expected, namely:
- much less friction in trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
- the renewed ability of Westminster to set VAT and excises in the province
- and an ability for members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to ward off new single market laws from Brussels
So I've got one piece of advice for Rishi Sunak tonight, as he basks in his unexpected triumph. As prime minister he will probably never have a better day, and he should probably assume that someone in his own party will shortly find something in the small print of the Windsor Framework and declare him a traitor. It's a Brexit inevitability.
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