Brexit Cabinet rift as Braverman backs Boris over EU negotiations

Rishi Sunak’s cabinet appears to be in open civil war over plans to agree a compromise deal with the EU over the latest fraught Brexit negotiations. Home Secretary Suella Braverman stoked the flames of internal Tory conflict on the issue by coming out in support of the position set out by Boris Johnson over the weekend.

Ms Braverman’s intervention has come just 24 hours after Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt described Mr Johnson’s comments as “helpful” in an interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuennsber, adding “there’s still a lot to be done” to secure a deal over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Johnson had called on the Government to stick with the Northern Ireland protocol bill.

Ms Braverman agreed.

She said: “The legislation that the government introduced is one of the biggest tools we have in solving the problem on the Irish Sea ‘It’s clear and it’s right that the PM is committed to finding a pragmatic solution to resolve these issues.’

Over the weekend, Mr Johnson contributed to growing pressure piling on Mr Sunak when he weighed in on the recent negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He reminded the Prime Minister of the existence of his Northern Ireland Protocol Bill – which could torpedo the hated legislation.

A source close to Mr Johnson said it was his view that “it would be a great mistake to drop the Northern Ireland protocol bill”.

But a senior Tory source hit out at the intervention, suggesting it was hypocritical. They said: “Boris warning the government not to do exactly what he did to get a good deal with the EU is very Boris.”

The Daily Express last week revealed that Mr Johnson was planning the intervention over the Protocol, with a source telling the paper: “It won’t be all guns blazing, it will be classic Boris. He won’t go out and say the UK has been betrayed, he’ll be a lot more clever than that.

“It will be like: ‘Rishi, I know you can get a better deal’, while also being out there scheming behind his back.”

The Conservative party insider claimed that Mr Johnson will “then come out swinging” if Mr Sunak doesn’t deliver, using the issue as a “springboard” to improve his own standing within the Conservative party.

“Boris is waiting for the local elections in May, but this issue is the perfect springboard for what he wants”, the source explained.

Over the weekend, former Chancellor George Osborne told Andrew Neil on Channel 4 that Mr Johnson “is interested in becoming Prime Minister again”, claiming “he wants to bring down Rishi Sunak and he will use any instrument to do it.”

The UK has been locked in talks with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has caused severe delays and shortages, since October 2021.

READ MORE: Sunak’s Belfast ‘plan’ has left loyal Brexiteers with more questions

Mr Sunak held crunch talks in Belfast last week, before meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference over the weekend.

While Downing Street and EU leaders are thought to be edging closer to an agreement, there are concerns that the deal will allow the European Court of Justice to maintain a role in policing the deal.

This has been met with anger from members of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party and the right wing of the Tory party.

The Conservative Party insider warned: “The ERG is wound up. The Boris faction is licking their lips.”

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