Ex-UK attorney general condemns bid to rewrite Brexit deal

Marco Green
September 16, 2020

"The UK government argues that the Internal Market Bill will act only as a "safety net" but is viewed in Brussels as directly reintroducing the primary risk that both sides negotiated to avoid - the risk of a "hard border" on the island of Ireland".

MPs initially backed the Internal Market Bill in last night's vote by 340 votes to 263.

Sajid Javid, Conservative MP and the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister, in other words), had also come out against the bill, saying in a tweet that he could not see why it would be necessary to break global law in the instance of the Internal Market Bill.

Johnson, though, said it was essential to counter "absurd" threats from Brussels including that London put up trade barriers between Britain and Northern Ireland and impose a food blockade - steps he said threatened the United Kingdom's unity.

Commons Justice Committee chairman, Sir Bob Neill, has tabled an amendment requiring a vote of Parliament before ministers can exercise the new powers in the Bill, and urged MPs to "take the opportunity to change and improve these clauses".

The bloc is demanding that he withdraw the offending parts of the new bill by the end of September or risk no trade deal at the end of the year to cover everything from food to vehicle parts.

Separately, it emerged that junior civil servants working on Brexit policy that they fear might break the law have been told to inform their managers. The bloc has threatened the United Kingdom with legal action if it does not drop the proposal by the end of the month. That was agreed through the Northern Ireland protocol that could have resulted in an effective border down the Irish Sea if a trade deal was not reached.

"When it comes to preserving the integrity of the United Kingdom and clearly delivering for the people of Northern Ireland when it comes to the Good Friday Agreement, we've said from day one. that we would always stand by our word and not compromise when it comes to unfettered access in goods and services but also standing by the Good Friday Agreement", she said on BBC Breakfast.

But opposition Labour spokesman Ed Miliband ridiculed the idea.

"Either he was not straight with the country in the first place or he did not understand it", said Miliband.

He added: "This is his deal".

The efforts to alter the deal come as, according to British negotiator Sir David Frost, the European Union is threatening to use an extreme interpretation of the WA to seriously disrupt trade between the UK's constituent nations if it does not submit to the EU's demands in the negotiations. This is his deal, it's his mess, it's his failure. On Monday, Rehman Chisti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham, resigned as a government special envoy on what he called "a matter of principle".

Although MPs on Monday defeated a Labour attempt to try to kill the bill, amendments have already been proposed for debate during four days of detailed scrutiny starting Tuesday.

Even some Brexit-backing Tories are unhappy, with one, Charles Walker, saying: "I'm no fan of the European Union. but surely we have to exhaust all other options before we press the nuclear button".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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