Rishi Sunak says new Brexit deal isn’t about ‘personalities’ in jab at Boris and admits EU still plays small role in NI

epa10494083 Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak looks on during a joint news conference with European Commission President on a post-Brexit deal in Windsor, Britain, 27 February 2023. The UK and European Union reached a deal on Northern Ireland's trading arrangements, ending more than a year of often acrimonious wrangling over the post-Brexit settlement for the region, people familiar with the matter said. EPA/CHRIS J. RATCLIFFE / POOL

RISHI Sunak took a swipe at Boris Johnson today, insisting the government’s new Brexit deal isn’t about “personalities”.

During a visit to Northern Ireland, the PM hailed the customs crushing Windsor Framework as an “incredibly powerful achievement”.

Rishi Sunak today insisted the Windsor Framework isn’t about “personalities”

But he also admitted the deal leaves a “small and limited role” for EU law in the province.

Mr Sunak will nonetheless try and sell the agreement throughout today as he visits businesses across Northern Ireland.

On Monday the PM and EU boss Ursula von der Leyen shook hands on the historic Windsor Framework to end the so-called “sausage wars” that saw two years of border chaos over goods and trade.

EU red tape that hampered meats, sarnies, parcels and even seed potatoes being exported from mainland Britain have been abolished in a major win for the UK.

Ministers hailed the remarkable feat of ripping up the Northern Ireland Protocol — but Unionists and hardline Tory Brexiteers were this morning poring over the small print before passing judgement.

Unionist MPs insist they will only resume power sharing in Stormont if they give the deal a thumbs up.

DUP chief Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told BBC Radio 4: “There remain some issues where we continue to engage with the government, and we will take our time.

“As the Prime Minister said, this is a very complex agreement and we need to understand it. We only received the legal text yesterday afternoon so we’re going to take time to study the it, to get legal advice on it, and then we’ll come to a conclusion on the agreement as a whole.”

Last night sources close to Boris said he “continues to study and reflect on the government’s proposals.”

How the DUP and ex-PM ultimately respond will influence the views of a significant number of Tory backbenchers.

But Mr Sunak is determined to push through with the deal regardless of their verdict.

” Of course I speak to the former Prime Minister,” the PM told Radio 4.

“But this is not about any of us. This is not about personalities. It’s not about Westminster.

“The Windsor framework means that the issues that have been raised the challenges that people felt, those can be and will be addressed.

“I hope people focus on rather than focusing on the personalities.”

Yesterday Mr Sunak hailed a “decisive breakthrough”, unveiling the new “Stormont Brake” that will allow the UK to thwart new EU laws if they are not backed by all communities in Northern Ireland.

Just 30 members of the Assembly can trigger the protest mechanism.

But there are fears the new mechanism doesn’t go far enough for the DUP, who ideally want EU judges to have no say whatsoever.

This morning Mr Sunak defended the mechanism, arguing less than 3% of EU laws will apply to the province under his deal.

“That situation only persists as long as the people are happy with it,” Mr Sunak said.

“And what we have done yesterday is introduce the Stormont break, which gives power to Stormont to say if there’s a new law that’s going to significantly impact people’s lives coming from the EU, they will be able to block it.”