Former UK prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss are planning to vote against a key part of Rishi Sunak’s new deal for Northern Ireland on Wednesday, saying it left the UK unable to fully “take advantage” of Brexit.

The Windsor framework, unveiled by Sunak and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen last month, aims to ease frictions created by the Northern Ireland protocol, the post-Brexit trading arrangements for the region that have soured EU-UK relations and paralysed the region’s politics.

On Wednesday, MPs will be able to vote on an element of the deal, the so-called Stormont brake, which allows members of Northern Ireland’s assembly to lodge objections to new EU rules being imposed.

The new deal also includes measures to reduce trade friction between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, including a “green” lane system for goods not at risk of being sent into the EU.

But unionists and Conservative Eurosceptic MPs say the Windsor framework does not go far enough to address the amount of EU law applying in the region.

Ahead of the vote on Wednesday, Johnson said: “The proposed arrangements would mean either that Northern Ireland remained captured by the EU legal order — and was increasingly divergent from the rest of the UK — or they would mean that the whole of the UK was unable properly to diverge and take advantage of Brexit.”

A spokesman for Truss said that she would vote against the Stormont brake having examined the detail of the deal.

Mark Francois, chair of the European Research Group of backbench Eurosceptic Tory MPs, whose “star chamber” has been scrutinising the deal, on Tuesday signalled that they still had numerous concerns.

He refused to confirm how many of its members would vote against it and said MPs would convene again within the next 24 hours.

“The star chamber’s principal findings are that: EU law will still be supreme in Northern Ireland; the rights of its people under the 1800 Act of Union are not restored; the green lane is not really a green lane at all,” he said.

“The Stormont brake is practically useless and the framework itself has no exit, other than through a highly complex legal process.”

But Downing Street defended the measure. “The brake addresses the democratic deficit and provides a clear democratic safeguard for the people of Northern Ireland,” the prime minister’s spokesperson said.

Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris argued that the framework represented an “important opportunity for a turning point for Northern Ireland”, adding that it was “not perfect” but marked a “massive improvement” for the region.

Heaton-Harris also argued that there had been “a lot of speculation” on what the Stormont brake actually did, adding that it was important to implement it “sooner rather than later”.

One government minister anticipated that the ERG, whose influence has diminished since the heated Brexit battles during former prime minister Theresa May’s tenure, was likely to be “split” in its eventual verdict.

The Democratic Unionist party, Northern Ireland’s biggest pro-UK force, is also planning to vote against the deal. It has boycotted the region’s assembly and power-sharing executive at Stormont since last May to press for its demands to be met by London.

The DUP said Sunak’s deal does not do enough to protect Northern Ireland’s status within the UK or ability to trade with Great Britain.

Opposition from the ERG and DUP will not prevent the measure from being passed since the opposition Labour party has pledged to support it. But the DUP’s stance complicates the prospect of a speedy return to Stormont and is a symbolic blow to the prime minister.

“This is not about softening or hardening, this about getting it right for the future of Northern Ireland,” said DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who is seen as a party moderate and committed devolutionist.

“Our objective is to restore devolution with a solid foundation so it can ensure stability for the next generation . . . to ignore, rather than address, the concerns of unionists will not help Northern Ireland move forward,” he said.

The 27 EU member states on Tuesday unanimously agreed the principal proposed changes to the protocol.

Jessika Roswall, Europe minister of Sweden, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said after the decision that it opened a “new chapter” in relations with the UK. “In a time of crisis . . . it is vital that the EU and UK are able to work together as allies,” she said.

A group of 77 business leaders, including Paul Drechsler, chair of the International Chamber of Commerce, released a statement on Wednesday supporting the Windsor framework via the pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain.

“The markets have already responded positively to this new pragmatic approach,” Drechsler said, urging the government to open an “international charm offensive to rebuild the UK’s reputation and attractiveness as a commercial trading partner”.

Additional reporting by Andy Bounds in Brussels

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