Sunak handed major victory in first public verdict on new Brexit deal

Rishi Sunak discusses NI agreement in Parliament

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Rishi Sunak has been handed a boost by the British public, as more Britons think the UK was the winner in the deal the Prime Minister struck with the EU earlier this week. The Prime Minister finalised the Windsor Framework with EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday in a bid to end years of tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol. An exclusive poll for the Daily Express provides the first public verdict on the deal since the agreement was announced.

The Techne UK poll asked: “Who was the winner from the Northern Ireland Windsor Framework Deal reached between Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen this week?”

A total of 25 percent of people said the UK came out as the winner, while 18 percent said the EU.

Some 23 percent of people said both parties won, while 14 percent said neither. Another 20 percent were undecided.

The deal removes barriers on trade across the Irish Sea and hands a “veto” to politicians in Stormont on EU law – but it still includes a role for the European Court of Justice.

While Mr Sunak has hailed the deal as a “decisive breakthrough”, it is yet to be accepted by Brexiteers and unionists in Northern Ireland.

The European Research Group – a powerful caucus of backbench Tory Brexiteers – is currently weighing up whether or not to support Mr Sunak’s deal.

Earlier this week, ERG chairman Mark Francois said Tory Brexiteers will take at least two weeks to scrutinise Mr Sunak’s Brexit deal with an “extremely fine-tooth comb”.

But he warned that the process could take longer as the PM faces an anxious wait to see if Conservative Eurosceptics and the DUP back his agreement.

The ERG is convening Sir Bill Cash’s so-called “star chamber” of lawyers to examine the pact before deciding whether to get behind it.

Speaking after an ERG meeting attended by around 50 MPs on Tuesday evening, Mr Francois said: “I’m not going to go through everything that everybody raised, but quite a few topics were put forward that we’ve asked the star chamber to look at so.

“One of the implications of that is that, is it is actually going to take a while to do this. This will not be an overnight job. It takes as long as it takes.

“I think Sir Bill and his team if they can, would hope to have something within about a fortnight. But if it takes longer than that, then it takes longer than that.”

ERG Deputy Leader David Jones added: “It’s going to take a week or two because it’s a complicated deal.”

Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party is also weighing up whether or not to support the deal.

The DUP’s support is thought to be essential for Mr Sunak to proceed with the deal.

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr on Tuesday warned the deal “doesn’t cut the mustard”, while party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson warned, “there remain key issues of concern”.

Ian Paisley told the BBC: “It provides no basis for the DUP to go back into Government and Rishi Sunak needs to enter fresh negotiations with the EU.

Jacob Rees-Mogg also warned the PM he would face a Tory revolt if the DUP rejects the deal.

The Techne UK poll, conducted on March 1 and 2, spoke to 1,621 people.

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