In a lengthy legal analysis, Tory MPs in the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteers were told that the Brexit deal struck by Rishi Sunak on Northern Ireland fails on all red lines and increases the EU’s power over Britain.
The star chamber of legal and constitutional experts chaired by Sir William Cash has said the deal “doubles down” on the dreaded Protocol and describes his vaunted Stormont Brake as “practically useless.”
The ERG members were warned this morning in a 54-page document that the Windsor Framework does not restore UK sovereignty over Northern Ireland and does not meet any of the group’s red lines.
It comes after the Democratic Unionists (DUP) announced yesterday that they will also vote against the deal when the government asks Parliament to approve the so-called Stormont Brake, which would give Northern Ireland a veto over EU rules.
With around 50 Conservative MPs attending the two previous ERG meetings on the deal, Mr Sunak may require Labour votes to get his deal through Parliament.
Sir William’s star chamber of experts – including Martin Howe KC, Barnabus Reynolds and ERG deputy chairman David Jones – have issued a series of damning conclusions.
On sovereignty, they said: “Northern Ireland remains subject to the power and control of EU law, the Court of Justice of the European Union (ECJ) and EU administrative organs (such as the European Commission) in respect of goods and ancillary matters.
“EU State aid law (below) continues to apply across the whole of the UK in respect of aid which may affect Northern Ireland.”
Noting that the two main objectives sought in renegotiating the deal are not achieved, they said: “The rights of the people of Northern Ireland under the Acts of Union 1800 are not restored.
“The hard border remains between the two different legal systems, which comprise those of (a) Great Britain, and (b) the newly created EU law regime in Northern Ireland.”
In a warning that the deal will not conclude the problems, they pointed out that any deregulation or implementation of Brexit freedoms are likely to provoke a fresh round of talks.
They said: “Future deregulatory efforts in the UK, e.g. under the Retention of EU Law Bill, will call into question whether new checks will be required, triggering a fresh negotiation.”
And in a warning which could panic many Brexiteers, they added that the deal could push governments to simply comply with EU rules.
They said: “The Windsor arrangement risks incentivising the UK and its future governments to copy future EU rules, and adjustments to existing EU rules, so as to avoid the imposition of new checks across the Irish Sea.”