Sunak on alert for first Brexit deal revolt after fresh DUP hint

Rishi Sunak says companies are ‘queueing up’ to invest in NI

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Democratic Unionist (DUP) MP Sammy Wilson has given the strongest hint yet that his party may reject Rishi Sunak’s Windsor Framework with the EU on Northern Ireland. The Brexiteer DUP deputy whip told Times Radio that using the King to try to bolster the deal was “a dangerous thing”.

The remarks come amid continuing anger among Tory MPs that Mr Sunak has “politicised” the monarchy.

Buckingham Palace has said that the crucial meeting between the King and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen took place “at the advice of the Government” adding that the King is always happy to welcome world leaders.

But other critics such as Nigel Farage have said they are “vexed” even by the choice of location of the final talks Windsor Castle which is a royal residence.

Mr Wilson this morning voiced his disquiet and those among other Northern Ireland Unionists including former DUP leader Dame Arlene Foster who has warned the Government “will regret” dragging in the monarchy.

Mr Wilson warned: “It is really an indication of the Government’s view that this deal was not a great deal and was trying to persuade Unionists to accept it on the basis that we have great respect for the monarchy.”

He went on: “To use the monarch in the way in which he has been used, I think, is a very, very dangerous thing because don’t forget this was not just about a dispute between politicians in Northern Ireland and the Conservative Party.

“This was a dispute within the Conservative Party itself. And the monarch has now been involved in internal disputes of one particular political party.

“We will decide how we convey our concern about that. I think that anyone who admires and knows the value of the monarchy will be very disturbed by the way in which he has been dragged into politics.”

Mr Wilson made clear though that he and the other members of the DUP are not dismissing the deal out of hand and will look at the details.

However, if they refuse to accept it then the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly cannot be reconvened.

He said: “We’re actually considering the deal, rather than simply, as most other people have done, accepting the deal without looking at the detail.

“It’s too important because it’s not just the impact on our economy. It’s the impact of our membership of the UK, which will be a result of whether we accept this deal, or whether we don’t.”

But he warned that the key issue will be Northern Ireland’s sovereignty as part of the UK.

He said: “Let’s not underestimate the fact that when the EU introduces new laws in the future, it will have an impact on Northern Ireland. And the point of the brake was meant to be to give a means for unionists to oppose that.

“I think it will have to be used on lots of occasions, though I suspect to be fairly ineffective.”

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