Sunak's Northern Ireland Brexit bill passes despite Tory rebellion 

A key part of the Windsor Framework has been passed by MPs.

Windsor Framework: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Northern Ireland Brexit bill passes despite Tory rebels iStock

A huge majority of MPs have voted to pass a crucial part of Rishi Sunak’s Northern Ireland Brexit bill.

The Stormont brake, which is part of the Windsor Agreement, was voted against by some Tory rebels but passed with a majority of 486 MPs.

Only 29 MPs voted against the bill.

Ahead of the debate, three former Conservative Party leaders – Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Iain Duncan Smith – said they would vote against the bill.

The Stormont brake is a mechanism that gives the Northern Ireland assembly the power to object to changes to EU rules that apply in the country.

It is designed to ease trade frictions and Unionists fears associated with the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was part of former prime minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

The protocol was drawn-up to prevent a hardening of the land border in Ireland by allowing EU single market rules to continue to apply in Northern Ireland.

The result was that regulatory and customs checks moved to the Irish Sea, creating economic barriers on the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

As part of a deal aimed at cutting red tape created by the treaty, Sunak negotiated the Stormont brake in a bid to give Belfast greater autonomy over the rules that apply to the province.

The brake would allow a minority of elected Stormont members to formally flag concerns about the imposition of new EU laws in Northern Ireland – a move that could see the UK Government veto their introduction in the region.

The Prime Minister’s end goal with the framework is to restore power-sharing in Belfast.

The DUP, the largest Unionist party in the Northern Ireland Assembly, is currently blocking devolution at Stormont in protest at the terms of the protocol.

London, Brussels and Washington are keen for the Stormont institutions to be restored ahead of next month’s landmark 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

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