Prime Minister Boris Johnson is looking to override the withdrawal agreement in a move that could lead to a no deal Brexit. The Internal Market Bill passed its first hurdle in the Commons on Tuesday as MPs voted in favour by 340 votes to 263. It addresses the Northern Ireland Protocol – an element of the withdrawal agreement designed to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland. The bill seeks to give powers to UK ministers so they can modify or “disapply” rules relating to the movement of goods – Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted last week that this could break international law.
This has led to uproar both in the UK and in Brussels, as critics round on the Prime Minister.
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that “a precise implementation of the withdrawal agreement” was vital for the success of trade talks and a key issue of trust between the two parties.
However, Vice Chairman of the European Research Group (ERG), David Jones, told the Chopper Politics podcast that he believed it is Brussels breaching agreements between the UK and the EU.
The Brexiteer said: “I was very surprised by the remarks of Brandon Lewis because it seems to me it doesn’t actually breach international law, what it does is allow the domestic courts of this country to come forward with an interpretation of the withdrawal agreement that protects British interests.
“The withdrawal agreement is an agreement between two parties and both have obligations to use best endeavours, negotiating in good faith to achieve a FTA if they can.
“The EU, under the terms of the political declaration, has to negotiate respecting the sovereignty of the UK and its internal market, and they haven’t done that.
“So I think the EU is pretty badly in breach of the agreement.”
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“The level playing field too is also unacceptable because that means we won’t be able to put our own regulatory regime in place.
“The fact is, if the EU refuses to negotiate with us, then it is very clear that the government will have no option than to move forward with an interpretation of the withdrawal agreement that protects British interests.”