British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says his plan to unilaterally rewrite Britain’s divorce agreement with the European Union is an insurance policy against irresponsible behavior, comments that came as his former Attorney General was one. A growing number of bar-fied lawmen joined.
Johnson said on Monday that a planned law designed to overturn parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement was needed because the EU could go to “extreme and unfair lengths” in its treatment of former member Britain.
“I have absolutely no desire to use these measures,” Johnson told lawmakers as he introduced the Internal Markets Bill in the House of Commons. “They are an insurance policy.”
The UK formally left the bloc on 31 January, but the current trade rules remained in effect until later this year, under a transition designed to provide time to negotiate a long-term trade agreement.
Johnson’s Conservative government has acknowledged that the bill breaks the legally binding withdrawal treaty that has been ratified by both Britain and the European Union. The law threatens to drown out the already ongoing negotiations between Britain and the European Union on the Brexit trade deal.
Opposition Labor Party trade spokesman Ed Miliband accused Johnson of “breaking the reputation of this country and ruining the reputation of his office.”
With a majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons, Johnson is expected to have enough votes to advance his legislation through Parliament, but there is widespread uneasiness within the Conservative Party about the law-breaking move.
Geoffrey Cox, who was the government’s top legal officer when Johnson reached a Brexit withdrawal agreement less than a year ago, said that the moratorium on the deal would be an “unconscious” violation of international law.
Cox, previously a strong supporter of Johnson over Brexit, said he would not support the motion on his first House of Commons vote on Monday.
“I simply cannot accept or endorse a position in which we go back to our word,” Cox said on The Times. “The breakdown of the law ultimately causes a very long-term and permanent damage to the reputation of this country.”
Sajid Javid, a former Treasury chief in Johnson’s government, also said he would not vote for the bill, as “I cannot support pre-UK emptying” on the withdrawal agreement.
The UK formally left the bloc on 31 January, but the current trade rules remained in effect until later this year under a transition regime designed to provide time to negotiate a long-term trade agreement.
As part of the Brexit divorce deal, Britain and the European Union agreed to keep Northern Ireland – the only part of Britain to share it with the bloc – bound by some EU rules on trade, border checks To avoid the need for goods moving between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Both sides accepted the agreement to protect the open border, which helps ease the peace process in Northern Ireland.
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The Internal Markets Bill, which the government hopes to pass legislation within weeks, will give the British government the power to override the EU’s agreed role of trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Johnson claims that the European Union has threatened to use an “extreme interpretation” of the “blockade” of shipments of food from the rest of Britain to Northern Ireland unless Britain agrees to accept EU rules .
He said the block was “threatening to raise tariff limits in our own country and divide our own land.”
The European Union denies the threat of a blockade, saying it only wants Britain to live on the terms of the agreement. European Union leaders resented the Prime Minister’s proposal and threatened the UK with legal action if the proposal was not dropped by the end of the month.
Two former Conservative UK Prime Ministers, John Major and Theresa May, have condemned the legislation. A third on Monday, David Cameron, said he had “misunderstandings”.
Conservative legalist Rehman Chishti stepped down as the prime minister’s special envoy on freedom of religion in protest against the bill. He tweeted that as a former lawyer, “I love to respect the rule of law and respect someone’s word.”
Some observers find that Johnson is repeating a treaty he himself negotiated and hailed as an “oven-ready” deal that would “be Brexit.” The announcement of victory was crucial to Johnson’s successful December 2019 election campaign.
Tim Bell, a professor of politics at Queen Mary University in London, said, “There was a political imperative to come to an agreement with the government and then to go to the voters with the claim that they had coined a phrase.” .
“I think it was probably the case in some senses that it was to make a hasty compromise and then repent at leisure.” And what we are seeing now is repentance. ”
Johnson’s move has led to a dwindling trust between Britain and the European Union as they try to negotiate a new trade relationship.
Despite the freezing of relations between London and Brussels and the threat of legal action, trade talks between the two sides continue this week. Both sides say that any deal should be agreed by next month, so it will be confirmed by 31 December.
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If there is no deal, tariffs and other barriers to trade will be implemented by both parties in early 2021.
This would mean massive economic disruption for the UK, which does half of it with trade blocks. The no-exit exit on 1 January will also include some EU countries, including Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands, particularly difficult.