Now the EU taunts Rishi over his Brexit deal: Jean-Claude Juncker boasts the UK is trying to ‘hide’ how much ‘authority’ his agreement gives Brussels and European judges in Northern Ireland
Former EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker risked causing fresh pain for Rishi Sunak tonight as he claimed people were ‘trying to hide’ what Brussels had secured in the new Brexit deal.
Mr Juncker – commission president when Theresa May tried unsuccessfully to thrash out a deal and in the early part of Boris Johnson’s premiership – said he thought the EU would have ‘more authority than it seems’ in Northern Ireland.
He also pointed out that the agreement ‘reconfirmed’ the role of the European Court of Justice as an arbiter over single market rules in the province.
The comments came as Mr Johnson put himself on a collision course with Mr Sunak by warning the ‘Windsor Framework’ will not ‘take back control’ from the EU.
The ex-PM reignited the long-running rivalry with his successor by making clear he will not vote for the package because it stills favours Brussels.
Former EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker (right with Ursula von der Leyen in 2019) claimed people were ‘trying to hide’ what Brussels had secured in the new Brexit deal
Mr Sunak trumpeted a breakthrough on Monday with the pact to replace the Northern Ireland Protocol previously struck by Boris Johnson
Mr Sunak trumpeted a breakthrough on Monday with the pact to replace the Northern Ireland Protocol previously struck by Mr Johnson.
However, there have been signs of nerves among Tories as they have digested the details. The DUP has yet to get on board with the terms – and without their approval power sharing cannot be restored at Stormont.
In an interview with LBC’s Tonight with Andrew Marr, Mr Juncker welcomed the Windsor Framework as a ‘real breakthrough’.
But he insisted: ‘I think that the European Commission will have more authority than it seems. And as the European Court of Justice has been reconfirmed in its role as an arbiter when it comes to internal market questions concerning Northern Ireland.
‘So I think that although the deal is giving a response to the major British concerns there is a part of European Union in the deal some in Britain are trying to hide.’
Mr Juncker said that while he liked Mr Johnson personally he had better relations with all the other British prime ministers he had worked with.
‘I like him as a person. He’s funny, but he’s serious nevertheless. And I had better relations with all the prime ministers of Britain I’ve known, starting with John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, even David Cameron, then mainly Theresa May, who was a lady,’ he said.
‘And Boris Johnson was a piece of work, someone you cannot categorise, in normal definitions, but I liked him as a person.’
In a speech today Mr Johnson said he would find it ‘very difficult’ to back his successor’s Windsor Framework because it still gave the EU too much of a say in Ulster
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