MP says maximum 20 Tories will rebel against Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal

Downing Street is confident a maximum of 20 Tories will rebel against them Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal for Northern Ireland in a crucial vote, a Conservative MP proposed.

The Prime Minister should be sure that every backbencher revolts the Windsor framework will be manageable after sealing the deal with Brussels last month.

The remaining MPs joined his call for the Commons to get behind the deal, likening the Eurosceptic Tories to “Japanese soldiers” who don’t believe the Brexit war is over.

MPs will debate the “Stormont Brake” on Wednesday – a law giving members of the Northern Ireland Assembly a say on new EU laws that will apply to the province.

It will be their sole voice on the new Irish Sea Border Agreement and eyes will be on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Tory MPs’ European Research Group (ERG) to see how they react.

Number 10 appealed to Brexiteer backbenchers to get behind the deal, which cuts border controls on British goods entering Northern Ireland but retains the role of EU judges.

“We believe this is the best deal for the people of Northern Ireland. It solves the fundamental problems we know [Northern Ireland] The protocol was everyday,” said the Prime Minister’s spokesman. “Therefore we would strongly encourage MPs to vote for the deal next week.”

When asked if the figure of 20 MPs sounded right, Elmet and Rothwell Conservative MP Alec Shelbrooke told TalkTV: “I think they’re about right.

“I think there is a hardcore who doesn’t compromise at all, but then there’s no getting around the fact that you want to keep the Good Friday Agreement.”

Mr Shelbrooke, who voted “Remain” in the Brexit referendum, said: “The public wants this to be over, Parliament wants this to be over. I think there are a few Japanese soldiers who don’t believe the war is over, but I think there are very, very few now.”

Kamala Harris, the US Vice President, backed the accord, saying it was “an essential step to ensure peace and progress and to ensure it is strengthened”.

ERG’s “Star Chamber” of experts has been scrutinizing the new deal and is expected to report on it ahead of Wednesday’s vote.

Mark Francois, Group Chair, said: “We are still awaiting the outcome of the detailed legal review of the Windsor Framework’s Star Chamber, which of course includes the Stormont Brake.

“We now hope to have this completed before next Wednesday and members of the group will no doubt be paying close attention to the conclusions – which will be published – ahead of any vote.”

But Downing Street was forced to defend the decision to hold a vote on the deal before the DUP had decided whether or not to back it and end its year-long boycott of Stormont over the protocol.

Mr Sunak’s spokesman said MPs have had three weeks to consider the agreement, which is seen as far more credible if it wins the support of the DUP.

“We stand ready to answer more questions from people, but we believe this recognizes the Prime Minister’s commitment to ensuring MPs have the opportunity to vote on the new rules,” he said.

The DUP may be willing to vote against the deal, which comes about with or without their support, it has also been reported.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, said this week the new agreement represents “significant progress” but fails to solve “some of the fundamental problems”.

He said the deal, which means hundreds of EU laws will continue to apply in Northern Ireland to prevent a hard border on the island, needs to be amended and spelled out.

DUP MPs are expected to abstain from the vote in hopes of winning further concessions from London and Brussels in the future.

The DUP also fears losing its support for hard-line unionists in May’s local elections if it backs the new deal too early.

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