Tory Brexiteers signal they could back deal after claiming victory over European Court of Justice role

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Harry Yorke
·2 min read
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The Prime Minister hammering out the deal in his office in No 10 last week - ANDREW PARSONS
The Prime Minister hammering out the deal in his office in No 10 last week - ANDREW PARSONS

Senior Tory Brexiteers have signalled they could back Boris Johnson's trade deal as they hailed the removal of the European Court of Justice from the UK's affairs as a significant victory.

In a boost for the Prime Minister, several of his party's most hardline Eurosceptics told The Telegraph on Saturday night that they were encouraged on first glance of the deal.

One said the removal of the ECJ and EU law appeared to deliver on the promises of Vote Leave in 2016 to take back control of the UK's laws, describing it as "huge".

It came as members of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs on Saturday began combing through the 1,246 page document, formally known as the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

The group has convened a self-styled "star chamber" of lawyers led by veteran Eurosceptic MP Sir Bill Cash to examine the text ahead of a Commons vote on Wednesday.

The senior Conservative backbencher said No 10 sent him the treaty by courier on Saturday morning and that his team were in "constant communication".

"Sovereignty is the key issue. The ECJ is part of that," Sir Bill added.

They added that the agreement struck on security cooperation appeared to go further than they had expected, after the National Crime Agency on Saturday said that it "will allow us to retain access to the majority of European Union law enforcement criminal justice tools that benefit law enforcement across Europe."

The deal allows the two sides to cooperate on security and policing issues, although Brussels said the UK will no longer have "direct, real-time access" to sensitive information.

While the requirement for UK car manufacturers to reduce the number of parts sourced from third countries from 60 per cent to 45 per cent over six years has alarmed some industry experts, the MP said they were confident this would give foreign firms, such as Toyota and Nissan, time to adjust.

Read more: Big changes are coming for Britain, vows PM

A second MP added: "In principle, I do want to back this deal if I can, but we all know from bitter experience that things that look great straight out of negotiations can end up being deeply problematic.

"But certainly from what I have read so far, I haven't found anything in it that is a deal-breaker."

However, they warned that the "compromises on fisheries have been greater than on other matters," adding: "If all the bad stuff was in the transition it would still be bad, but at least it would be time-limited."

A third senior MP said colleagues wanted to "support the Prime Minister", although all three insisted they would not reach a final conclusion until they had studied the full text.