Boris better have had his weetabix this morning. The former Prime Minister faces battles on all fronts, as he’s set to appear before the privileges committee to give evidence – lasting up to four hours – at 2pm, before he’s pledged to vote against Rishi Sunak’s Northern Ireland deal.
Ben Riley-Smith reports that Boris has spent upwards of 20 hours prepping for the hearing. He’s going to need it when you consider the make-up of the panel. The committee’s chair, Harriet Harman, has already made a series of tweets pre-empting her verdict as she’s joined by an SNP member, Allan Dorans, and a Labour MP who has previously tweeted that “Boris Johnson tells disgraceful lies”. The Conservative members won’t even give Boris any respite. Charles Walker previously called on Boris to quit over partygate and publicly accused him of treating MPs like dogs, as Bernard Jenkin, who even the Guardian describe as “no friend” to Boris, compared criticisms of the committee to a “terrorist campaign”. It’s hardly an impartial jury.
After facing the kangaroo court, Boris will then vote against Rishi Sunak’s Northern Ireland protocol deal. In a statement this morning, the former Prime Minister said the deal would leave Northern Ireland “captured by the EU legal order”. He added:
“That is not acceptable. I will be voting against the proposed arrangements today. Instead, the best course of action is to proceed with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, and make sure that we take back control.”
All in a day’s work…
Before ruminating on the “lies” and “propaganda” of the Brexit campaign, Jean-Claude Juncker heartily endorsed Rishi Sunak’s Northern Ireland deal. Speaking to Andrew Marr for LBC, he called the deal a “real breakthrough”, saying he was “quite happy” with what he described as “diplomacy at its best”. Jean-Claude then gave further insight into why he was so keen on the deal:
“I think that the European Commission will have more authority than it seems. And as the European Court of Justice has been reconfirmed in its role as arbiter, when it comes to internal market questions concerning Northern Ireland. So, I think that although the deal is giving response to the major British concerns, there is a part of European Union in the deal some in Britain is trying to hide.”
Rishi will not be grateful for this lavish endorsement. Boris might be onto something here…
The government has published the full details of Rishi Sunak’s “Windsor Framework” NI Protocol deal. Read in full below…
Speaking last night, on the eve of the anniversary of the war in Ukraine, Boris Johnson made clear his stance on the Northern Ireland Protocol. In an interview with Sky News, the former Prime Minister refused to commit to backing Rishi’s deal. Instead he advocated for an agreement on the basis of the Northern Ireland Bill – which, he was quick to add, passed through the Commons with no amendments whilst he was Prime Minister. He argued it “fixes all the problems” of the protocol.
Going further, Boris said the bill:
“Solves the problems we have in the Irish Sea, it solves the problems of paperwork, VAT and so on. It’s an excellent bill. It doesn’t set up any other problems in the economy of the whole island of Ireland.”
Johnson’s intervention won’t help Rishi, who already faces a difficult challenge in managing his party’s opinions on the matter. In the interview, Boris also responded to Keir Starmer’s professed loathing for him, responding that “it’s important to be as civil and as friendly as you possibly can”. A lesson in kinder, gentler politics.