James O'Brien's instant reaction to the Brexit bill passing vote

Clay Curtis
September 16, 2020

But as those negotiations have stalled, Johnson's government has become increasingly frustrated by what it sees as an intransigence from the European Union and last week took the dramatic step of introducing the Internal Market Bill - which would allow ministers to rewrite parts of the Withdrawal Agreement that apply to Northern Ireland.

However some senior Conservatives warned they could not support the legislation in its present form after Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted it would breach global law in a "very specific and limited way".

Johnson maintains it is a crucial aspect of the Brexit deal, despite it seemingly breaking worldwide law.

"The EU still have not taken this revolver off the table", Johnson told parliament before the vote.

Sir Roger Gale, the Tory MP for North Thanet in Kent, told the BBC's Newsnight he had voted against the bill as a "matter of principle" to uphold global law.

"Breaking global law is a step that should never be taken lightly", wrote Tory MP and former chancellor Sajid Javid in a statement, adding that he could not support "pre-emptively reneging" on the withdrawal agreement and that he would not be supporting the bill on its second reading on Tuesday.

"I took a view that you fight this tooth and nail at every step".

"I think that this is damaging our worldwide reputation for honest and straight-dealing at a time when we are about to embark on a series of trade negotiations". Others have quite clearly decided they want to hold their fire for Bob Neill's amendment. "There is much to play for yet".

"What this Bill is not doing is not walking away from negotiation with the European Union".

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

UK Brexit
Johnson was told it was'his mess his failure that created any alleged problems in the Brexit treaty

Should it become law, the E.U. has threatened possible legal action against the U.K. After crisis talks last week, the European Commission said that Vice President Maros Sefcovic had "reminded the United Kingdom government that the Withdrawal Agreement contains a number of mechanisms and legal remedies to address violations of the legal obligations contained in the text - which the European Union will not be shy in using".

He claimed the Northern Ireland Secretary had "answered the wrong question" when speaking to MPs (see video below), and "as a effect the whole matter has been taken out of context".

Johnson won the second reading parliamentary vote on the Internal Market Bill by 340 votes to 263, but some 30 of his MPs abstained and two voted against the bill.

For Labour, shadow business secretary Ed Miliband - standing in for Sir Keir Starmer who is in coronavirus self-isolation - said Mr Johnson had only himself to blame for signing up to the Withdrawal Agreement.

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

But the Commons also voted against a Labour amendment to reject the bill entirely by 349 votes to 213.

"Because a competent government would never have entered into a binding agreement with provisions it could not live with".

Now the bill has passed its second reading, it will face four more days of debate on its fine print - a stage at which lawmakers can try to insert revisions that could change the entire meaning of the bill, or even kill it.

"It will protect the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom and the peace in Northern Ireland, safeguarding trade and jobs across all four corners of the United Kingdom following the end of the transition period".

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Regardless of how he feels, I'm sure he'll find a way. "It was totally unexpected and very unintended as well", Djokovic said. Serena Williams, suffering from an Achilles tendon problem, and US Open champion Naomi Osaka will also skip the Rome event.

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