Sunak is repeating May’s mistakes on Brexit, says Jacob Rees-Mogg

Rishi Sunak has been accused of imitating Theresa May’s doomed Brexit strategy over his plans to end a trade dispute with the EU. Former minister Jacob Rees-Mogg questioned why “so much political capital” was being spent on brokering a new deal without ensuring the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and his wing of the Conservative Party were on board.

Mr Sunak has been warned the Tories face electoral oblivion if he is accused of Brexit betrayal in his attempt to change the Northern Ireland Protocol.

With a new deal expected to be announced soon, he has been meeting MPs to win over unionists and Brexiteer Tories.

The DUP and Tory Eurosceptics in the European Research Group (ERG) met for crunch talks last night amid fears that the proposed deal will fall short of rewriting the protocol that governs how goods enter and leave the province.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, DUP leader, said: “Progress has been made but there is still some way to go.”

He confirmed that a major sticking point for his party is that goods produced in Northern Ireland that are destined for the internal market must be governed by UK law.

Mr Rees-Mogg urged Mr Sunak to press ahead with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, effectively ripping up parts of the agreement with Brussels, rather than seeking a deal that may not guarantee the return of powersharing in Stormont.

On his ConservativeHome podcast, Mr Rees-Mogg said: “There seems to me to be no point in agreeing a deal
that does not restore powersharing.”

He added: “I don’t know why so much political capital has been spent on something without getting the DUP and the ERG onside first.”

It was “very similar to what happened with Theresa May” where a policy would be presented in the hope that people would “conveniently fall in behind” it.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris held video talks with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic on Tuesday.

Insiders still believe a deal could be struck in the coming days.

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