Government to Implement Windsor Framework Unilaterally in Northern Ireland

Westminster is taking unilateral control of implementing the Windsor Framework Brexit agreement in Northern Ireland, with the UK government continuing its plans without the input of the DUP or any other party in Stormont in the absence of power-sharing. The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland confirmed reports this morning, which first appeared on Friday in PoliticsHome, that the agreement is set to proceed regardless of the power vacuum which has continued since early 2022. The Northern Ireland Office made the decision last week…

A government spokesperson said on Friday:

“We are continuing to take forward work to implement the Windsor Framework, and are engaging the Northern Ireland Parties as part of those efforts.”

There are still ongoing discussions as to what the plans going forward will look like. The feeling is that making no progress on the Framework now, after years of Brexit chaos, was too damaging a prospect to simply wait it out…

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UK and EU Formally Adopt Windsor Framework

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has met with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic this morning to shake hands over the Windsor Framework NI Brexit deal. Sefcovic is in London today to formally adopt the agreement, after MPs voted in favour of the Stormont Brake element on Wednesday. The one and only time they’ll get to do so…

Speaking just before rubberstamping the deal, Cleverly said:

 “By formally approving the Windsor Framework, we are delivering on our commitment to provide stability and certainty for Northern Ireland. The Framework is the best deal for Northern Ireland, safeguarding its place in the Union and protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement. I look forward to further effective cooperation with the EU on key issues, such as security and energy.”

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is still vowing not to return to power-sharing in Northern Ireland though…

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MPs Back Stormont Brake Ayes 515, Noes 29

In addition to 47 Conservative abstentions, there were 22 rebels, listed below. Rishi didn’t have to rely on opposition votes…

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Tory Big Beasts Rebelling Over Windsor Framework

The Brexiteer rebellion over the Windsor Framework is quickly building momentum this morning. So far:

  1. Boris Johnson
  2. Liz Truss
  3. Iain Duncan Smith
  4. David Jones
  5. James Duddridge
  6. Andrea Jenkyns
  7. Peter Bone
  8. Priti Patel
  9. Mark Francois
  10. Simon Clarke
  11. Jacob Rees-Mogg
  12. Adam Holloway
  13. Craig Mackinlay
  14. John Redwood

The whips were sending nervous messages around to Tory MPs last night – no prizes for guessing why. Stay tuned…

UPDATE: The ERG has recommended voting against the deal…

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European Research Group Slam Stormont Brake as “Practically Useless”

European Research Group Chair Mark Francois has slammed the Stormont Brake element of the Windsor Framework, saying the star chamber has found it “practically useless“:

“I would like to thank the Star Chamber, Chaired by Sir Bill Cash MP and ably supported by Martin Howe KC, Barnabas Reynolds and David Jones MP for their diligent and thorough examination of the legal implications of the Windsor Framework.

“The Star Chamber’s principal findings are: That EU law will still be supreme in Northern Ireland; The rights of its people under the 1800 Act of Union are not restored; the ‘green lane’. is not really a ‘green lane’ at all; the Stormont Brake is practically useless and the framework itself, has no exit, other than through a highly complex legal process.”

The ERG hasn’t come to a collective decision on whether to vote against the deal – they are meeting again tomorrow at 10.30 to make a final call. Sounds like there could be a split…

Read the star chamber’s full report below:

Read More

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Rishi Facing Down Brexiteer Rebellion Over Windsor Framework

As of this morning, it’s still a mixed picture on the potential Tory rebellion over the Windsor Framework. The European Research Group are meeting at 10.30 to hear the report of its ‘star chamber’, led by Sir Bill Cash, which will outline the chamber’s final judgement on the deal. According to reports overnight, Cash is expected to say the Stormont Brake – the element MPs will debate on Wednesday – is “unusable” in practice, and the Group shouldn’t support it. Tory MPs speaking to Guido say they nonetheless expect the Tory rebellion to be “soft“, and “they’ll have to have uncovered something pretty bad for a lot of people to vote against it”. The Telegraph has heard similarly, with one MP saying the group were “genuinely torn”…

The first Tory out the gates declaring their opposition this morning is Sir James Duddridge, who describes the deal as a “betrayal of Brexit” and vows to “absolutely vote against” it. The DUP decision to oppose it has put the wind in his sails. The Express, meanwhile, is more certain the ERG “is likely to side with the DUP” and push the rebellion figures higher. Although even if more MPs ultimately do follow Duddridge and the DUP, Starmer’s support means it’s incredibly unlikely to sink the deal entirely. It’s also worth keeping an eye on abstentions rather than outright opposition, as with the Illegal Migrant Bill earlier this month. Expect a press conference from the ERG this morning after their meeting, with Chris Heaton-Harris also up in front of Cash and the European Scrutiny Committee this afternoon. A busy day in SW1 – get the popcorn…

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