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A leading Brexiteer has launched a scathing attack against Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, raging “we still don’t have Brexit” and that the UK is still “joined at the hip to the EU”. Britain left the European Union on January 1, 2021 after the two sides signed an eleventh-hour Trade and Cooperation deal that should have sealed the UK’s departure from the bloc. Just weeks earlier during his general election campaign, then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson had prominently used the slogan ‘Get Brexit Done’.
But Brexit tensions have exploded over recent months, with numerous talks between the UK and EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol continually collapsing, with no agreed solution on the post-Brexit trading mechanism in sight.
Ben Habib, the former Brexit Party MEP and huge critic of the Protocol, has lashed out at Mr Johnson and current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, claiming Brexit is still a long way from actually being finalised.
He told Express.co.uk: “We haven’t got Brexit. It’s dangerous to accept or concede that we do have Brexit. We can’t claim we have got Brexit done until the UK has left the European Union as one country.
“Northern Ireland can’t be left behind under the EU laws adjudicated by EU courts with a border down the Irish Sea.
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“Brexit meant the UK being able to make its own laws to chart its own independent direction for what is in the interests of British people, then neither have we got Brexit by that measure.
“The Trade and Cooperation Agreement binds us into so many commitments in terms of state aid law, competition law, employment law and even Net Zero. The UK is still joined at the hip by the EU, so clearly we still don’t have Brexit.”
Mr Habib claimed the UK now finds itself in a position where it is “taking a knee to the EU”, accusing the Tories of “bottling” the chance to fully deliver Brexit with their huge majority in the House of Commons.
He said: “We either have the courage to break with the EU and take control of our own country, in which case Brussels is going to be upset.
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“Alternatively, we comply and we take a knee to the EU and at the moment, our Government is taking a knee to the EU. The Tories have this fantastic mandate and even had a majority with which to fully deliver Brexit but they bottled it.”
On Friday, Mr Sunak insisted he is working “flat out” to try to restore the powersharing Executive in Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister said during a visit to Belfast he is committed to resolving issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, conceding there were parts of the treaty which threaten the region’s place in the union.
Last February, the DUP withdrew its first minister from the ministerial executive as part of a furious backlash against the Protocol, with party insisting it will not allow a return to powersharing until radical changes to the mechanism are delivered.
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It believes the Protocol has undermined the country’s place within the UK by creating economic barriers on trade entering the region from Great Britain.
Mr Sunak said: “I am really committed to resolving some of the issues with the protocol, protecting Northern Ireland’s place in the union, in the United Kingdom, and in doing so, restoring the Executive.
“That is what the people in Northern Ireland need and deserve and that is what I am working flat out to try and deliver.
“I have not put a strict deadline on the talks (between the Government and the EU) and I don’t want to raise people’s expectations of an imminent breakthrough. What I can tell you is I am very committed to resolving this issue.
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“The Foreign Secretary met with his counterpart just this week, talks are ongoing and I will work as hard and as fast as I can to find a resolution to the issues with the protocol. I want to do that as soon as practically possible.”
The Prime Minister was tight-lipped on how talks with the EU are progressing, adding: “I am not going to give a running commentary on the negotiations, it wouldn’t be appropriate.
“What is of paramount importance to me is protecting Northern Ireland’s place in the union. The protocol, clearly there are areas of it which threaten that. I want to resolve those and I want to protect Northern Ireland’s place in the union.
“That is what I am setting out to do. If we can do that, we can get the Executive up and running, that is what people need and deserve.”