Rishi Sunak accused of ‘managing Britain’s decline’ under EU’s control

Rishi Sunak shares first Party Political Broadcast

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Rishi Sunak is “no Brexiteer” and has “no confidence” in the United Kingdom, former Brexit Party MEP Ben Habib has claimed. His comments as crunch talks take place between London and Brussels over a hated trade deal in Northern Ireland and as the Prime Minister remains under pressure to scrap some laws retained after Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Mr Habib told Express.co.uk: “Rishi Sunak is a bean counter. He may know the price of things, but he has no grasp of their value. There can be no Brexit if the country does not leave the EU as one United Kingdom. The value of our integrated sovereignty is priceless, yet Sunak fears the EU more than he values our country.

“Actions taken last week by his Foreign Secretary, giving the EU access to sensitive British trading information, have enabled a foreign power to undercut British companies and thereby accelerate their capture of Northern Ireland. He has turned his back on the Saltire of St. Patrick.”

Last week speculation mounted Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič were poised to trigger the final phase of negotiations to strike an agreement over the Northern Ireland Protocol, a Brexit trade agreement aimed at avoiding a hard border between EU member, the Republic of Ireland, and the province.

On Friday, Sir Keir Starmer urged the Prime Minister to face down Tory Eurosceptics over the protocol, predicting former PM Boris Johnson might lead opposition to a compromise deal with the EU.

The Labour leader used a speech in Belfast to tell Mr Sunak he will offer him “political cover” to strike an agreement with Brussels to resolve the impasse over the trading arrangements.

Mr Sunak is under pressure from within his own party to make sure thousands of EU laws which remain on the country’s statute books after Brexit are removed or replaced by December 31.

Mr Habib accused Mr Sunak of failing to get to grips with the thousands of EU regulations “hitching us at the hip to the EU”.

He added: “We cannot make policy for British interests if we are operating under laws which suit the EU. That should be self-evident to any half-witted individual. Sunak promised to ditch these laws and regulations within 100 days of taking office. Now the task is on a back burner.

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“No, Sunak is no Brexiteer. Like Johnson before him, Brexit was only a convenient tool to further his political career. He has no confidence in the United Kingdom or indeed his own ability to govern. He prefers managed decline under the EU.”

Former Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg told Express.co.uk he has no concerns about sharing data with checks already existing between the UK and EU.

He said: “What I would be concerned about is if this led to extra declarations for British businesses exporting to Northern Ireland.”

Asked about Mr Sunak’s performance on Brexit, Mr Rees-Mogg replied: “There are a number of things that need to be delivered. They are in the pipeline.”

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This includes the Retained EU Law Bill as well as legislation on reform of financial services. The remaining stages of the REUL Bill are due to take place on Wednesday (January 18).

Fellow Tory MP, John Baron, praised the Prime Minister for restoring stability to the markets after the turmoil of last year as the pound collapsed and mortgage rates rose in the wake of former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget.

He told Express.co.uk: “In a few months Rishi Sunak has achieved the important task of restoring order and stability to the markets and to the Government as a whole. Given the situation last autumn, this is no small achievement. He brings competence, compassion and integrity, which is why I supported him in both leadership contests last year.

“The pandemic, the war in Ukraine and the cost-of-living crisis they have precipitated have understandably occupied much of the Government’s bandwidth. Though the Government has made good progress on capitalising on Brexit freedoms – the vaccine procurement and rollout, landmark trade deals and the Edinburgh financial reforms being examples – there is an appetite for more progress. This week’s announcement of cancer vaccine development with BioNTech is promising.”

Health Secretary Steve Barclay was due to sign a memorandum of understanding with BioNTech on Friday to “ensure the best possible treatments are available as soon as possible” for cancer.

The agreement means cancer patients in England will get early access to trials exploring personalised mRNA therapies, like cancer vaccines, possibly from as early as autumn this year.

A Government spokesperson said: “We are taking full advantage of the many benefits of Brexit and are restoring the UK’s status as a sovereign, independent country that determines its own future.

“From stopping the boats to growing the economy, we remain committed to seizing Brexit opportunities to help us deliver our promises.

“Leaving the EU means we’re able to unlock tens of billions of pounds worth of investment through newly established freeports and our decision on Solvency II.

“We are also repealing and replacing burdensome EU laws, to establish our own rules for how we live and govern our lives in Britain.”

Mr Sunak also made clear in a speech at the CBI’s 2022 conference that the Government will not pursue any relationship with Europe which relies on alignment with EU rules.

He told the audience: “Brexit can deliver and is already delivering enormous benefit and opportunities.”

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