PM Johnson says bill will stop European Union using "stick" against UK

Clay Curtis
September 15, 2020

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends a debate on the Internal Market Bill at the House of Commons in London on Monday.

Boris Johnson's bill overrides parts of the divorce deal he signed with the European Union in December, a move that has led to a rebellion amongst some senior Tories who argue the legislation breaches worldwide law.

So whether or not this bill becomes law, how this saga develops is likely to have an impact on the prime minister's standing both within his own party and with the EU.

Meanwhile, British ministers say the bill, which explicitly states that it could be inconsistent with a host of worldwide laws, is meant to clarify ambiguities - particularly over Northern Ireland - and act as a safeguard in case trade talks fall.

The EU says Mr Johnson's bill would collapse trade talks and propel the United Kingdom towards a messy Brexit while former British leaders warn breaking the law is a step too far. "From a man who said he wanted to get Brexit done and won an election on it, this gets Brexit undone by overturning key aspects of the Protocol that were agreed".

Johnson claims the European Union has threatened to use "an extreme interpretation" of the withdrawal agreement to "blockade" food shipments from the rest of the Northern Ireland unless Britain agrees to accept European Union regulations.

The House of Commons will hold its first debate over a bombshell new bill introduced by Johnson's Conservative government, after a fraught buildup that evoked the film "Groundhog Day" for Austrian Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel. "It's his mess. It's his failure".

Speaking on a webinar, he said he was concerned "too many people were hoping that the transition period would carry on forever".

"It's a protection, it's a safety net, it's an insurance policy and it's a very sensible measure".

Sir Charles Walker, the vice-chairman of the powerful Tory backbench 1922 Committee, and Wakefield MP Imran Ahmad Khan - a member of last year's new intake of Conservative MPs - said they would not be supporting the Bill at second reading.

European Union tells Xi that China must prove investment deal is worthwhile
Despite the pandemic, economic and trade cooperation between the two sides remain robust in 2020. Beijing must follow up offers of fairer economic policies with actual concessions, they said.

The bill was passed by a government majority of 77 on Monday evening, with 340 MPs for to 263 against. His spokesman, James Slack, said it is "critical" MPs pass the bill before the year-end.

"I stood opposite the prime minister's predecessor, David Cameron, as leader of the opposition for five years". As a precaution, Starmer will be in self-isolation while that person's test results are awaited.

Rehman Chishti, Johnson's special envoy for freedom of religion or belief, quit earlier in the day, saying he couldn't vote for the plan. "I feel strongly about keeping the commitments we make; if we give our word, then we must honour it".

"We're committed to making a success of those negotiations".

"He can tell us".

"No British minister should solemnly undertake to observe treaty obligations with his fingers crossed behind his back", Johnson's former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, who is influential with colleagues, said in The Times newspaper.

The main opposition Labour Party will vote against Johnson's Brexit plan, according to a person familiar with the matter.

All five living former prime ministers have voiced concern at the potential breach of global law, along with five former Tory leaders.

While the language of the bill does state it would "have effect notwithstanding any relevant worldwide or domestic law with which they may be incompatible or inconsistent", the prime minister has stated that an additional vote would be required before the law's powers could be invoked, apparently hoping to assure opponents and hold back a rebellion within his own party. "It should be an absolute final resort".

Theresa May, John Major and Labour former PMs Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had already spoken out.

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