A hard-line Brexiteer has warned he fears new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will fail to fix the Northern Ireland Protocol “out of fear of upsetting the European Union”. When Liz Truss was Foreign Secretary earlier this year, she introduced the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill into the House of Commons which, if passed into law, would enable the Government to unilaterally make changes to the way the Brexit mechanism is implemented.
The Bill has been voted through Parliament but it could now face a series of hurdles from peers as it attempts to pass through the House of Lords.
Mr Sunak supported Brexit in the referendum in June 2016 but is still seen by many on the Conservative Party’s right as being too sympathetic to the EU.
Staunch Brexiteer and former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib claimed Mr Sunak was “very against” the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill and did not want to “ruffle the feathers of the EU”.
He told Express.co.uk: “I have it second hand that Rishi was very against the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill that Liz Truss brought forward to the Cabinet.
“The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill document is already a weak document but he actually wanted to water it down.
“Rishi is all about stability and is not someone who is going to want to ruffle the feathers of the EU.”
Mr Habib does not believe the new Prime Minister will solve any of the issues associated with post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland because Mr Sunak does not want to go against the status quo.
He added: “There is no solution to the issues in Northern Ireland as long as Rishi Sunak is Prime Minister. He is more prone to taking us back to regular realignment with the EU than he is to deviate.
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“The EU is looking forward working together on practical solutions. The people in Northern Ireland deserve and expect it.
“Therefore: The NI Protocol Bill must be taken off the table as soon as possible. Let’s go back to normal in these troubled times.”
Prior to Mr Sunak being announced as the new Prime Minister, an influential group of Tory MPs insisted the country’s new leader would get tough with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The former Chancellor and leadership contender Penny Mordaunt both spoke to the European Research Group of Brexiteer Conservatives this morning in a bid to win their support.
ERG Chairman Mark Francois said: “Some of us having spoken to both potential candidates this morning, they were equally adamant they would take – if they became Prime Minister – a very robust line on the Northern Ireland Protocol, up to and including if necessary, utilizing the Parliament Act to ensure the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill reaches the statute book.
“In addition, we should say both of them were very clear that if either of them were to become Prime Minister they are absolutely determined to do everything they can to unite the Conservative Party.”
Mr Sunak has previously insisted he would press ahead with the legislation designed to unilaterally overrule the Brexit deal while still trying to negotiate with the EU.
In August, he vowed to “keep Brexit safe” and establish a new governmental unit to review EU regulations that still apply in British law.
During the first Tory leadership contest just a week ago, he also refused to rule out Britain’s withdrawal from the European Court of Human Rights.