Is Sunak going soft on the EU in a vital year for Brexit and for his re-election hopes?

“Why does the Government still see the UK as the EU’s surrogate?” asks party leader

Montage © Facts4EU.Org 2023

Feelings about the EU are running high as we go into 2023

Serious questions are now being asked about the Sunak government’s commitment to sorting out the various sovereignty issues which remain, following the UK’s exit from the European Union.

In this report, Brexit Facts4EU.Org highlights just one of these, which many consider to be an iconic issue as well as being a bellweather for the UK Government’s commitment to a full Brexit and the restoration of full sovereignty to the United Kingdom.

Strong words from part of the United Kingdom in response to Government policy

“If Unionists are being trussed up for another betrayal, then strength not weakness must be the response.”

- TUV leader Jim Allister, Belfast, 29 Dec 2022

Just after Christmas (28 Dec 2022), a little-known government minister who sits in the House of Lords wrote a letter to the Chair of the Sub-Committee on the Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol. The letter is ostensibly about the somewhat arcane issue over the ‘sanitary/phytosanitary (SPS) facilities in Northern Ireland following Committee stage of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill’.

However this has wider implications for the entire sovereignty issue for the United Kingdom.

Unionists up in arms about Sunak Government’s ‘betrayal’

We must start with the Minister’s letter, which readers can access here. A key passage in the letter states:

“…it is written into the Bill’s text itself that we will not set aside the application of EU law in relation to checks and controls for EU destined goods.”

- Lord Benyon, DEFRA Minister, 28 Dec 2022

In short, no sovereignty for the UK. Below we publish a statement in response, by the leader of the Traditional Unionist Voice party, Jim Allister MLA.

Statement from Jim Allister MLA

“Lord Benyon’s letter on behalf of the government is significant in two key regards.

“Firstly, it confirms that, like the EU, HMG’s focus is only on “the operation of the Protocol”, rather than the reversal of its sovereignty grab and resulting constitutional consequences. Unionists who thought the Protocol Bill had a different intent will be disappointed.

“Secondly, it demonstrates that green and red lanes in fact confirm the existence of the Irish Sea border and will produce even greater and permanent border infrastructure at Larne and Belfast. Even the green lane access would still be under the aegis of the Protocol with declarations and paperwork still required to bring goods from GB, even though they would never leave Northern Ireland. The idea of having to be in a ‘trusted trader scheme’ to trade within your own country is obnoxious and wrong. Such would still leave the ‘same footing’ guarantee of Art 6 of the Acts of Union disapplied!

“Just as TUV called the Protocol right from the beginning, as the Union-dismantling instrument it is, so our warnings that green and red lanes are confirmatory of the Irish Sea border and no panacea are borne out by this revealing letter.

If Unionists are being trussed up for another betrayal, then, strength, not weakness, must be the response.

“TUV continues to question why the UK sees itself as the EU’s surrogate when it comes to protecting the EU’s Single Market. That should be the task of the EU and it should happen in its own territory. Instead, the Protocol cedes NI to EU control and puts the border down the Irish Sea.”

- Jim Allister MLA, Belfast, 29 Dec 2022

Who is the Remainer-Rejoiner Lord Benyon, who wrote the letter?

Firstly it must be said that as a former MP Richard Benyon was an extremist Remainer. As an MP he was one of those who repeatedly sought to overturn the democratic will of the British people, following the largest vote and mandate in British electoral history.

We must assume his views have not changed, because as recently as September 2019 he had the Conservative whip removed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for voting for the truly appalling ‘Benn Bill’ (European Union Withdrawal (No. 6) Bill). This was the motion that completely emasculated the Johnson government and prevented them from negotiating effectively with the EU.

Benyon then stood down as an MP at the general election on 12 December 2019, when Boris Johnson won his thumping majority. Somewhat inexplicably he was then elevated by Johnson to the House of Lords. Even more worryingly, just over two months ago (25 Oct 2022) the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promoted him to Minister of State at DEFRA (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).


Many readers might have thought we had seen the back of extremist Remainer-Rejoiner politicians like Lord Benyon, when so many of them stood down (or were defeated) as MPs at the general election of December 2019.

Sadly, this is clearly not the case. Here we have a man who wilfully disobeyed the whip and voted for a motion (the ‘Benn Bill’) that was so obviously designed to make it impossible for the Government of the day to negotiate with the EU from a position of strength.

We must say we didn’t need yet another Remainer-Rejoiner in the Remainer-Rejoiner House of Lords – and yet he was elevated to the upper chamber. We must also say that we would never let any of these people anywhere near the levers of power. Quite why Rishi Sunak made Lord Benyon a Minister at DEFRA is completely beyond us.

Facts4EU.Org’s position has always been that the NI Protocol must go in its entirety. We fully understand the implications of this for the UK-EU relationship, but sovereignty is not negotiable.

What is worrying is that not only is the Sunak Government failing to invoke Art 16 to negate that agreement, but it also seems to be going soft on the EU with Brexit as a whole.

We must get reports like this out there

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[ Sources: DEFRA | Traditional Unionist Voice party | Hansard ] Politicians and journalists can contact us for details, as ever.

Brexit Facts4EU.Org, Mon 02 Jan 2023

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