Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks at an energy summit in London, Thursday, March 2, 2023. (Jonathan Brady/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson threw cold water on current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s new Brexit deal with the European Union on Thursday, saying it “will be difficult.” to have it adopted by Parliament.

Johnson said he hoped the Sunak deal would work, but argued it was not about “taking back control of the UK”, a key Brexit slogan.

The government was expecting a response from Johnson, a strong Brexiteer who was ousted from office over ethics scandals in July 2022. Johnson is believed to be aiming for a political comeback and blaming fellow Tories, including Sunak, for his departure.

Johnson left office with an unresolved dispute between Britain and the bloc over trade rules for Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK that shares a border with an EU member country.

Under the Sunak government, the two sides reached an agreement, which was announced on Monday. The Windsor Framework Agreement will ease customs checks and other barriers to goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK that were imposed after Brexit to maintain an open border between the north and its neighbor the EU, the Republic of Ireland. The opening of the border is a key point in the peace process in Northern Ireland.

But Britain’s Northern Ireland Unionist politicians have yet to give him their blessing. They fear that accepting any aspect of EU trade rules could jeopardize Northern Ireland’s place in the UK.

Sunak also said UK lawmakers would vote on the deal, but did not say when.

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