Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has criticised his political rival, Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal on Northern Ireland, stating it does not “take back control”.
Johnson made his comments during a combative speech in Westminster where he revealed he will “find it very difficult” to vote for the agreement his successor but one struck with the European Union.
Johnson insisted it was a mistake to abandon his controversial legislation to override the Northern Ireland Protocol.
During his speech, Johnson said, “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.”
The charismatic 58-year-old made a rallying cry to seize Brexit benefits, pledging to continue pushing for the UK to take advantage of its freedoms outside of the EU.
Johnson further stated that Sunak’s deal “acts as a drag anchor on divergence which is the point of Brexit”. He urged Sunak to reduce corporation tax “to Irish levels or lower”, ahead of the planned increase in the rate from 19 percent to 25 percent in April.
When asked about a possible comeback to No. 10, Johnson downplayed the prospect of a return to politics, stating it was “very, very unlikely”. However, he added that defending Brexit, levelling up, and the Ukraine war remain key interests.
Sunak, on the other hand, insists that his Brexit agreement “puts beyond all doubt that we’ve now taken back control”, echoing Johnson’s slogan.
The deal removes trade barriers across the Irish Sea and hands a “veto” to politicians in Stormont on EU law. However, it still includes a role for the European Court of Justice.
The Prime Minister is waiting for the verdict of the Democratic Unionist Party, whose support will be key to restoring power-sharing in Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile, the European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Eurosceptics has said it will take around two weeks for its so-called “star chamber” of lawyers to go through the agreement with a fine-tooth comb.