As Brexit trade talks stalled, the government published then the Internal Market Bill on Wednesday, which 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 this week that this could break international law. The Prime Minister’s overall objective is to avoid the UK having to follow EU rules and regulations on state aid, trade and fisheries.
However, this has angered the EU and made the prospect of a no deal scenario more likely.
Mr Johnson has given Brussels until October 15th to reach an agreement or the UK will walk away from talks.
This could prove to be extremely damaging to Nicola Sturgeon’s independence push, according to Matt Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute, a right-wing think tank.
He argued in his CapX column this week that Brexit could make independence harder to sell.
Mr Kilcoyne said: “Once the powers are settled back in Westminster from Brussels, once mutual recognition is made the foundation block of regulation internally in the UK, and once there is the possibility of divergence between the UK and the EU, then selling independence becomes more and more costly.”
He also accused nationalists in Cardiff and Edinburgh of “throwing their toys out of the pram” as the devolved powers row over the UK’s internal trade.
He added that this “in large part because they know they’re running out of road on this issue” of internal trade”.
The Scottish First Minister said this week that Mr Johnson is trashing the UK’s reputation with his latest move.
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“What this story sounds to me like, actually, is the UK Government preparing the ground to sell out yet again Scotland’s fishing industry and look for somebody else to blame.
“Well when and if they do sell out Scotland’s fishing industry, the only people to blame will be the Tories and in the UK Government.”
This comes after the SNP have made significant strides to increase support for a break up of the union in Scotland.
Polling last month by Panelbase shows 55 percent in favour of breaking with the union, with 45 percent against – an exact reversal of the 2014 referendum result.