Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is putting his successor Rishi Sunak under pressure in view of an impending agreement with the EU on Brexit rights for Northern Ireland, according to media reports. Johnson is threatening a rebellion within the Conservative Party, the BBC and several other outlets have reported. Background: If an agreement were reached with Brussels, Sunak would give up a bill that would allow London to terminate the existing Northern Ireland agreement on its own.

From the point of view of Johnson and other Conservative MPs, however, the planned law is a means of exerting pressure in future disputes with the EU. The ex-prime minister, who resigned last year, thought it would be “a big mistake” to abandon the law, a confidante was quoted as saying. Sunak had said on Saturday that there was still no agreement with the EU. The current head of government has been in office since October last year. Under Johnson he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Johnson himself signed the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. But he has long been calling for a revision, since the internationally binding treaty created a customs border between the British provinces and the rest of the United Kingdom. There were trade barriers. Supporters of union with Britain fear the protocol paves the way for reunification with EU member Ireland. The most important Protestant Unionist party DUP has therefore been blocking the formation of a new government in Northern Ireland for months.