UPDATE 1-UK PM Sunak urges lawmakers to back "good deal" on Northern Ireland - spokesperson
(Adds quotes, detail)
LONDON, March 21 (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's spokesperson on Tuesday urged lawmakers to back a major element of the new deal over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, adding it was a good deal amid criticism from some Conservatives.
An influential group of eurosceptic Conservative lawmakers on Tuesday warned that the newly agreed 'Stormont brake" mechanism to prevent Northern Ireland being subject to unwelcome European Union laws was "practically useless".
"The Stormont brake is important and the most significant part of the framework, and we continue to urge parliamentarians to back it," Sunak's spokesperson said ahead of a vote on that aspect of the so-called Windsor Framework on Wednesday.
"I don't get into commenting on messages to Conservative MPs... But broadly this is a good deal for the people of Northern Ireland."
Under the Stormont brake, the British government will in exceptional circumstances be able to stop the application of new EU laws on goods in Northern Ireland if requested by a third of lawmakers in Northern Ireland's regional assembly.
The spokesperson said he wouldn't comment on the party-political aspect of passing the vote, but addressed concerns raised by the lawmakers that EU law and the European Court of Justice remains supreme in Northern Ireland, adding that the brake was a "significant step change" to previous agreements.
"(It) fundamentally restores or deals with the democratic deficit that existed... With regards to the ECJ, what the framework does is minimise hugely the application of EU law in Northern Ireland to the bare minimum," he said.
"A vote against the brake, in factual terms, would lead to automatic alignment with the EU with no say at all." (Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, writing by Alistair Smout; editing by Sarah Young)