British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has defended legislation that undercuts the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement by saying that other countries need to recognize the UK has to protect its internal market.
On Monday night, the government suffered a significant defeat in the House of Lords, as it attempted to push through the Internal Market Bill which it says aims to protect trade post-Brexit. The EU has criticized the legislation as it violates the previously agreed Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and breaches international law in what one British minister claimed would amount to a “specific and limited” way.
The UK Parliament’s upper chamber voted to remove the clauses ministers claim they put in to protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK and prevent a hard border between it and the Republic of Ireland. Opponents of the government’s measures argue that the legislation will breach and undermine the Good Friday Agreement, potentially forcing checks to be put in place along the Irish border.
The Labour Party’s Leader in the Lords, Angela Smith, called on the government to “see sense, accept the removal of these offending clauses and start to rebuild [the UK’s] international reputation”.
Questioned on whether the government would continue to attempt to push through the legislation without accepting the removal of the clauses, Johnson’s spokesman told reporters that other countries must “recognize” that the government “cannot allow the peace process or the UK’s internal market to inadvertently be compromised by unintended consequences” of the Withdrawal Agreement.
The clauses might not be needed if the UK manages to agree a trade deal with the EU before the end of the year deadline. However, if Johnson presses on with his government’s plans to force through this legislation, it could prevent a deal from being finalized. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney reaffirmed the position held by EU negotiators in saying that the “EU cannot ratify a new deal while the UK is legislating to break a previous agreement”.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!