Brexiteer warns Rishi Sunak ‘played like an Irish fiddle’ as PM celebrates EU deal | Politics | News

Rishi Sunak has been warned that he is “being played like an Irish fiddle” with his latest EU deal threatening to undermine the benefits of Brexit and tie the UK to Brussels rules.

Former Brexit Party and ex-Tory donor MEP Ben Habib, now standing for Reform UK in the Wellingborough by-election, has hit out at Mr Sunak’s agreement with Ireland, the EU, Sinn Fein and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to reopen the Stormont Assembly.

Mr Habib and other leading Brexiteers have warned that it will mean the UK has to shadow EU rules and regulations to prevent a border in the Irish Sea.

And Mr Habib has hit out particularly at Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s role in the process as a politician who has made his hostility to the UK and Brexit clear since 2018.

Habib told “The Prime Minister is being played like an Irish fiddle.”

He went on: “Leo Varadkar must be cock-a-hoop this morning. His vile display in 2018, of a bombed-out border post from 1972, to an EU Summit, threatening a return to violence if a customs border was placed between Northern Ireland and Ireland, has paid off.

“This morning he visits Northern Ireland with Sunak to celebrate the regulatory border being put between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is now firmly subject to EU laws.

“That alone is a remarkable feat of constitutional savagery. But, in some twisted Orwellian fashion, Varadkar has also got the British Prime Minister and leader of political unionism, [DUP leader] Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, to deny the very existence of the Irish Sea border they have cemented into place.”

He added: “To hide their deception, these gentlemen have agreed that Great Britain will not diverge from the EU. Their thinking being that the regulatory rule of the EU in Northern Ireland will not be visible if Great Britain does not diverge. In short, Brexit has been neutered to try to hide their constitutional vandalism.

“But, even with Brexit undermined, the Irish Sea border will be stark. The EU is bound to pass laws which will not apply in Great Britain. With the passing of these, Northern Ireland will be dragged away from its rightful place in the United Kingdom.

“Sunak’s and Donaldson’s legacy will be the betrayal of both Northern Ireland and Brexit.”

Leading figures such as DUP former First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster have backed the deal to reopen Stormont. It has also been pointed out that Donaldson won concessions from Brussels to allow Northern Ireland to benefit from UK trade deals.

However, the deal has split the DUP with five of their MPs against it. Added to that it has raised serious concerns within the European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Brexiteer MPs.

The perceived sellout is one of the reasons why Martin Howe KC, who has provided legal and constitutional advice to the ERG, publicly left the Conservatives and joined Reform UK.

ERG sources have pointed out that one of the figures behind the deal was former Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith, who has a shadowy role as an unofficial adviser to the Prime Minister. Smith was a Remainer who clashed regularly with Brexiteers when he was chief whip and there are fears that he has been pushing Theresa May’s controversial “alignment” to EU rules policy.

There are serious concerns that Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill will now be Northern Ireland’s First Minister and is already pushing an Ireland unity referendum.

However, others have pointed out that the Sunak government has achieved what its predecessors failed to do which is get the Stormont Assembly open and running again.

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