Sunak Backers Look for Signs of Unionist View on Brexit Deal.

The UK government is watching to see whether skeptical members of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party back his new deal with the European Union, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak embarked on a push to win support for the agreement.
“People are worried about the DUP,” British government minister Steve Baker said after Sunak had addressed rank-and-file Tory MPs at a meeting in Parliament on Tuesday evening. “We all believe he’s done it. We’re just now waiting with bated breath to see if the DUP agrees.”
Sunak is trying to win over the Northern Irish politicians — plus pro-Brexit MPs within his own party — who fear any deal that keeps the region in the EU’s single market for goods means ongoing trade frictions with England, Scotland and Wales.
A day after unveiling the new deal — dubbed the “Windsor Framework” — Sunak visited Belfast, telling BBC radio he was “confident” the agreement addressed their concerns. He also told a business event in the city that Northern Ireland had a “unique” opportunity to trade within both the UK and EU single markets.
Sunak hopes that the DUP will return to Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government, which they collapsed more than a year ago in protest at the existing post-Brexit settlement for the region. Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, cautiously welcomed Sunak’s deal on Monday but says his party needs more time to study it, and that some issues remain.
The worry for Sunak is that a DUP rejection of his deal could prolong political instability in the region and encourage some Brexit hard-liners within his Conservative Party to also vote against it. Sunak doesn’t want to have to rely on the support of the opposition Labour Party to get his deal through Parliament, which would be a symbol of political weakness, so is wary of any significant rebellion from his own backbenchers.
Donaldson joined a meeting of the European Research Group of Tory MPs on Tuesday evening — the party’s caucus of hardline Brexit-backers — to update them on his views of Sunak’s deal. Mark Francois, one of the ERG’s members, said it has commissioned a team of lawyers to study the text and expected it to report within about a fortnight. 
“We’ve asked our legal eagles to go through all of this with an extremely fine-tooth comb,” Francois said after the meeting. “I think all MPs would benefit from their advice, so perhaps they might all want to hear what the ‘star chamber’ conclude.”

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