Johnson on the ‘best way forward’ for Brexit and Northern Ireland
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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set for final talks with President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Monday, February 27, to finalise years of Brexit negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol. Yet former Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed concern about compromising with the bloc. A new Express.co.uk poll has found that almost three-quarters of readers support Mr Johnson intervening.
In one of his first domestic policy interventions since leaving office in September, Mr Johnson warned against Mr Sunak ditching the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, claiming it would be a “great mistake” to surrender the legislation.
Mr Johnson agreed to the Protocol as part of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, with the legislation coming into effect in 2021, to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, which remains to be a member of the bloc.
Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt told the BBC on Sunday, February 19, that Mr Johnson’s intervention was not “entirely unhelpful” as it pushed the EU to start “talking about things that previously it said it wouldn’t talk about.”
However, Mr Sunak wrote in The Telegraph that the Protocol was a “last resort” and claimed that a “negotiated solution would be a better outcome”.
In a poll that ran from 8.30am on Monday, February 20, to 11.15am on Monday, February 27, Express.co.uk asked readers: “Is Boris right to intervene in Rishi Sunak’s Brexit talks?”
Overall, 4,048 votes were cast, with the vast majority of readers, 74 percent (2,987 people), answering “yes” Mr Johnson was right to intervene.
Whereas 25 percent (1,019 people) said “no” he should not, and a further one percent (42 people) said they did not know either way.
Hundreds of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers debated Mr Johnson’s interference.
Many readers argued in support of Mr Johnson intervening, with username Valantine writing: “Yes he should, he was part and parcel of the Brexit treaty and is still a member of the Conservative Party. Discussions should be had by all members, it should not be solely down to Rishi.”
Similarly, username PCicn wrote: “He’s right to raise a concern about settling this thorny issue; still an MP so valid to contribute to the debate.”
Username NorthernGeezer said: “Yes! He’s entitled to his opinion, same as the rest of us and if it helps us to get Brexit rather than the Brino then all the better!”
And username hammond012 added: “Yes! Standard practice in today’s politics. If you think a wrong trajectory is emerging, you brief against it. Boris is right to question Sunaks strategy.”
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Meanwhile, some readers commented that Mr Sunak does not have a public mandate behind his premiership. Username rask said: “Boris is right to intervene, we did not vote for Sunak.”
Username Tilly2017 agreed writing: “Yes Boris does have a right to raise concerns, Boris was the people’s choice of Prime Minister Sunak is not.”
Another, username MaybeWhats, said: “Of course, Boris has every right. Sunak is using Boris’s mandate…he has no mandate of his own!”
Username UKForever remarked: “Boris is our true Prime Minister! We need him as leader until we get Brexit done!”
However, other readers thought that Mr Johnson had had his chance to resolve Brexit and should leave Mr Sunak to his negotiations. Username Upset remarked: “Johnson’s interfering is unnecessary.”
Likewise, username ChwaraeTeg said: “Boris failed to get Brexit done properly and now Rishi is trying to clean up the mess that Boris left behind him. Sit your backside on your backbench Boris, you had your chance and you blew it!”
Username Korkythecat commented: “Boris Johnson made a pig’s ear of Brexit, he should keep his nose out.”
And username Nannabt said: “Johnson is a backbencher, he’s got no right to intervene, he had his chance to sort it while Prime Minister.”
Mr Sunak and Ms von der Leyen are expected to commence talks around late lunchtime. Downing Street officials said when the day’s schedule was announced: “The leaders are expected to meet late lunchtime for final talks.
“The Prime Minister wants to ensure any deal fixes the practical problems on the ground, ensures trade flows freely within the whole of the UK, safeguards Northern Ireland’s place in our Union and returns sovereignty to the people of Northern Ireland.” Following a Cabinet meeting, a short joint-press conference is expected to be held.
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