- By Sam Francis
- Political journalist, BBC News
Boris Johnson has said he would find it “very difficult” to vote for Rishi Sunak’s new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland.
The former prime minister said the deal ‘was not about the UK taking over control’.
It is the first time he has commented since Mr Sunak unveiled the Windsor agreement on Monday.
The agreement with the EU aims to solve post-Brexit trade problems in Northern Ireland.
But Mr Johnson said it was ‘a version of the solution that was offered’ to Liz Truss when she was his Foreign Secretary last year.
In a speech at Westminster, the former Prime Minister said: “It is the graciously adamant EU to do what we want in our country not by our laws but by theirs.
“I’m going to find it very difficult to vote for something like this myself, because I think we should have done something different.”
The deal would act as “an anchor on divergence” with the EU, he added.
“Brexit is nothing unless we in this country don’t do things differently.”
Mr Johnson has called for his controversial Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which the EU says would breach international law, to be reinstated if the new deal does not work.
The bill was dropped by Mr Sunak, who told MPs his new deal “puts beyond doubt that we have now regained control”.
MPs are expected to vote on Mr Sunak’s Windsor framework in the coming weeks.
Mr Johnson could decide to abstain rather than actively vote against.
He remains an influential force on the Tory benches, but it looks like the majority of party MPs will vote for the new deal.
Labor also said they would back it, guaranteeing it would become law.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) – whose support is crucial to restoring the power-sharing government in Northern Ireland – has yet to deliver its verdict on the deal.
The Brexiteer European Research (ERG) group of Tory MPs have hired lawyers to study the text in detail before delivering their verdict.
Mr Sunak has previously said the new deal is about ‘what is best for the people of Northern Ireland’ and not ‘personalities’.
He said the deal “will make a positive difference for everyone” in Northern Ireland.