A leaked recording has revealed the EU’s top negotiator Maros Sefcovic does not seem to think Rishi Sunak’s Northern Ireland deal takes back full control for Britain. Mr Sefcovic told the European Parliament’s Brexit committee that the European court still reigns supreme over Northern Ireland, despite what the British Prime Minister says. He insisted that the Windsor Agreement would not hand back full sovereignty to the UK over Northern Ireland.
This appears to echo Boris Johnson’s own remarks, after the former Prime Minister said the deal was “not about the UK taking back control” as Brexit “won’t be” done with it.
In a bid to sell the deal, Mr Sunak has claimed that his new deal “puts beyond all doubt that we’ve now taken back control”.
The deal with the EU aims to fix post-Brexit trade problems in Northern Ireland.
In the leaked EU recordings obtained by the Telegraph, Mr Sefcovic, who worked on the agreement, dismissed Mr Sunak’s claim that Britain had secured an effective veto over new European laws that affect Northern Ireland.
He said the Windsor Framework was designed in a way to avoid hostile headlines in the British press.
The EU negotiator said that the ‘Stormont Brake’ which was used to calm Unionist and Brexiteer concerns, is “very much limited in scope and it’s really under very strict conditions”.
Mr Sunak has used the mechanism to persuade members of the DUP that his new deal would allow Northern Ireland politicians a veto on new EU rules applying to the province.
However, Mr Sefcovic told MEPs this week that Brussels would have powers to react to any decision with trade sanctions, such as customs levies against British exports.
Mr Johnson distanced himself from his predecessor’s deal, saying earlier this week that he will find it “very difficult” to vote for the agreement.
He claimed Mr Sunak’s deal would act as “a drag anchor on divergence” from the EU.
The former prime minister added: “Brexit is nothing unless we in this country don’t do things differently.”
MPs are expected to have a vote on Mr Sunak’s Windsor framework in the coming weeks.
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