Boris doubles down on Brexit row telling Sunak to stick with NI Bill

Johnson on the ‘best way forward’ for Brexit and Northern Ireland

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Boris Johnson has pressed home his advantage over Rishi Sunak tonight after he effectively warned the current Prime Minister to not divert from his old policy on Northern Ireland. With threats of ministerial resignations and a rebellion by around 100 MPs, Mr Johnson told Sky News tonight that Mr Sunak should push through a bill to sort out the hated protocol instead of compromising with the EU.

The intervention follows a major article in the Telegraph last weekend which appeared to trigger a panic in the government and saw Mr Sunak ditch plans to publish details of a deal with the EU.

The former Prime Minister has had the public backing of Home Secretary Suella Braverman and Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt in a week where Mr Sunk’s position has appeared to have weakened.

Tonight Mr Johnson said: “It’s important to see what there may be but I think that the best way forward, as I said when I was running the Government, is the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill which cleared the Commons very comfortably, I think unamended when I was in office.

“That was only a few months ago and that was the best way forward.

“I think the best thing is to continue with the Northern Ireland Bill that we agreed.”

He went on: “It’s a very good bill, it fixes all the problems, it solves the problems that we have in the Irish Sea, it solves the problems of paperwork, VAT and so on.

“It’s an excellent bill and doesn’t set up any other problems in the economy of the whole island of Ireland.”

There have been claims that Mr Sunak has tried to shelve the Bill which would have provided green and red lanes to keep the UK’s internal market open and protect Northern Ireland’s sovereignty against Brussels power creep.

The Bill was blocked by the Lords and despite a quiet parliamentary agenda has not yet been brought back to the Commons.

Meanwhile, the intervention is part of what many see as a comeback tour for Mr Johnson since he was deposed last year.

With Mr Sunak more than 20 points behind in the polls Tory MPs are saaid to be “increasingly nervous” and some have talks about a coup to bring Mr Johnson back.

The comeback tour has included unveiling his portrait at the Carlton Club, trips to Egypt for COP27, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum, Ukraine and the USA where he has been feted as a leader.

Mr Sunak has also taken fire from Liz Truss, who he replaced as Prime Minister, on Northern Ireland, economic and foreign policy.

Both Truss and Johnson have also urged Mr Sunak to send fighter jets to Ukraine.

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