PMQs: Rishi Sunak blasts SNP's Stephen Flynn for exploiting Brexit breakthrough to 'play politics'

PMQs: Rishi Sunak blasts SNP's Stephen Flynn for exploiting Brexit breakthrough to 'play politics'

PMQs: The Prime Minister criticised SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn for exploiting Brexit

GB News
Georgina Cutler

By Georgina Cutler

Published: 01/03/2023

- 13:08

Updated: 01/03/2023

- 14:40

The Prime Minister claims he has 'achieved the impossible' in restoring full sovereignty to Northern Ireland

Rishi Sunak criticised SNP's Stephen Flynn during Prime Minister's Questions as he claimed he was trying to "play politics" with the situation in Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister has hailed his "landmark agreement" with EU which “permanently removes the border in the Irish Sea” and is both radical and legally binding, ending the threat of "endless dynamic alignment".

While quizzing Sunak, Flynn said: "Yesterday, the Prime Minister said that EU single market access was special, exciting and attractive.

"If that's the case why is he denying it to the rest of us?"

Stephen Flynn standing the House of Commons

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn received backlash during Prime Minister's Questions

GB News

The leader of the Tory party replied: "It's disappointing that the honourable gentleman is seeking to play politics with the situation in Northern Ireland.

"Northern Ireland as he well knows is a unique place in the United Kingdom and what we are trying to do is restore the balance in the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and he would do well to acknowledge that."

It comes after the deal - agreed by Sunak and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Windsor this week - is intended to dramatically cut trade bureaucracy and reduce the role of EU law and the European Court of Justice in Northern Ireland, as well as giving the region’s assembly at Stormont a say over new EU rules.

However Flynn said Sunak’s advocacy for the benefits of single market access in Northern Ireland suggests Labour believes in Brexit more than the Prime Minister.

He told the Commons: “What the Prime Minister said yesterday is that EU single market access will be a good thing for business.

"Now of course that’s in contrast to the leader of the Labour Party who said in December, that EU single market access would not boost economic growth.”

“Does it hurt the Prime Minister to know that the Labour Party believe in Brexit more than he does?” Flynn asked.

Sunak responded: “The important thing to note is to avoid a land border on the island of Ireland between north and south. That is what is crucial to achieve in getting the right framework for the arrangements in Northern Ireland.

“And the businesses there that trade across that border on a daily basis with complex supply chains need and value that access. That is something that the Windsor Framework has sought to achieve and I believe delivers it.

“It’s not about the macro issue of membership of the European Union, it’s about getting the right mechanisms in place to support businesses and communities in Northern Ireland. He knows better than that.”

The Brexit treaty is now set to be changed, something the EU had repeatedly insisted was impossible, to include a "hard brake" which will allow the UK, if demanded by 30 members from at least two parties in the Northern Ireland legislative assembly, to oppose updates to new EU goods law.

Brussels has also agreed to restart co-operation with Britain under the £84billion Horizon science project, with von der Leyen hailing “good news for scientists and researchers” in the UK.

Keir Starmer pointing his finger at Rishi Sunak in the House and Commons

Stephen Flynn claimed that the Labour Party believe in Brexit more than Rishi Sunak


But the deal has faced some doubt with DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr, telling GB News that his "gut instinct is this does not cut the mustard."

He said: "One cannot underestimate that His Majesty's government and Rishi Sunak have worked incredibly hard to try and move things in an environment where we were told there would be not an inch, not a single dot or comma would be changed to the existing Protocol.

"And it now appears that it can be changed. Has it been changed sufficiently? Does it meet our seven test?

"Obviously we are going to continue to assess the legal framework, and it's important that we do look at the legal issues which come forward, but I think it falls some way short in satisfying those tests."

You may like