Steve Baker has opened up about the mental health struggles he suffered as a result of Brexit.
The Tory MP, who has led a number of in-party rebellions over recent years, told BBC Newsnight that Rishi Sunak’s Northern Ireland Protocol deal bookends a “seven-year chapter” in his life.
The Prime Minister and EU chief Ursula von der Leyen finalised the long-awaited agreement to ease the trading issues created by the current arrangements during a summit at Windsor on Monday.
Sunak hopes the deal will win the approval of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) so powersharing can be restored in Northern Ireland to get Stormont back up and running.
“Seven years of this cost me my mental health,” he said.
“The beard, the jewellery, is about me and my recovery. In November 2021, I had a major mental health crisis, anxiety and depression, I couldn’t go on.
“People couldn’t tell – I made a big keynote speech in the afternoon.
“But make no mistake, holding these tigers by the tail, Brexit, covid recovery group, net zero scrutiny group, the tax stuff we did with Conservative way forward, took its toll, we’re all only human.
“And the way I’ve led rebellions, no one should have to do. And this is an important moment for me personally. Because I can authentically say ‘he’s done it.’”
Baker added: “If only everybody will read the text, and think seriously about what an amazing achievement this is, what an incredible opportunity it provides, for the people of Northern Ireland and actually for the whole of Europe to move beyond this awful populism we have suffered.
“Just be sensible and grown up, do the right thing by 1.9 million people, and the ripple effects for everybody else. You bet I’m emotional, because this bookends a seven-year chapter of my life which I’ll be glad to close,” he said.
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