MPs vote through Rishi Sunak's Brexit deal
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Rishi Sunak is gearing up to hail two further Brexit victories today, as the Prime Minister is set to announce two new freeports in Wales today. The economic zones – which the Government has hailed as a key Brexit benefit – will provide tax breaks as part of an attempt to unlock business in the area. This comes just one day after the Prime Minister already secured a huge win, with a key part of his new deal with the EU on Northern Ireland passing through the House of Commons 515 votes to 29.
He saw off a brewing rebellion within the Tory Party, with just 22 of his MPs voting against the statutory instrument.
Mr Sunak said the new economic zones – one of which is located in Anglesey and the other in Port Talbot and Milford Haven – will see “businesses and opportunities for people in and around Anglesey, Port Talbot and Milford Haven go from strength to strength”.
The Prime Minister will meet with Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford for breakfast, before joining Welsh Secretary David TC Davies for a visit to the Anglesey freeport.
In a statement, the PM added: “Everyone deserves equality of opportunity and working closely with the Welsh Government has helped to deliver these fantastic new sites.
“Today’s Freeports show the hard work being done day in, day out to bring new, high-skilled jobs to communities across Wales and deliver on my promise to grow the economy.”
Mr Drakeford said the freeports form part of the Welsh Government’s mission to “transform” its economy and create a “stronger, fairer and greener future”.
He added: “The designation of these sites as Wales’ first freeports will reinforce that mission, building on the significant investments and partnerships we have made in these regions over many years.
“The joint working between governments on the freeport programme should serve as a blueprint for future intergovernmental work on a whole range of issues.”
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Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said the new freeports will be “transformational” for Wales and will help to “grow the economy, level up and spread opportunity”.
Mr Sunak was expected to face a major rebellion in the Commons yesterday after the European Research Group advised its members to vote against the deal.
However, just 22 Tory MPs rebelled, in what was seen as a victory for the Prime Minister. 6 DUP MPs and one independent MP – Andrew Bridgen – also voted against the legislation.
But sources close to the ERG have pointed out that there was a significant 48 MPs who abstained from the vote, taking the total number of Conservative MPs who did not back the deal to 70 – which amounts to more than 15 percent of Tory MPs.
An insider warned that viewing this as a victory for Mr Sunak is “bonkers”, given the number of abstentions.
Yesterday, ERG Chairman Mark Francois told reporters that senior officers recommended that the group should vote against the Statutory Instrument. He said no one present spoke out against that conclusion.
Mr Sunak was expected to have to rely on opposition votes in order to get the deal through.
Fears of a rebellion were exacerbated when Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Sir Iain Duncan Smith – three former Conservative leaders – as well as former Home Secretary Priti Patel, all announced ahead of the vote that they would be voting against the legislation.
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