Economy

MPs express anger during Internal Market Bill debate

MPs express anger during Internal Market Bill debate”

James O'Brien was "confounded" by the vote in favour of the internal markets bill on Monday night - which allows the United Kingdom to break the withdrawal agreement.

The government welcomed the Commons vote to give the UK Internal Market Bill a second reading, saying that it was now critical that the legislation completed its passage through Parliament by the end of the year.

The controversial intention to break the agreement caused uproar among parts of the Conservative Party with Tory MP Rehman Chishti stepping down in an act of protest on Monday as the prime minister's special envoy on freedom of religion.

MPs will now begin detailed scrutiny of the bill on Tuesday with Conservative MPs seeking further assurances that the United Kingdom will not betray its treaty obligations.

The Bill aims to end the legal legitimacy of the Northern Ireland protocol - contained within the Withdrawal Agreement - in areas such as customs and state aid and financial assistance.

The PM said it is "necessary" to row back on aspects of a Brexit agreement - and in the process breach global law - in order to "stop a foreign power from breaking up our country".

"We are ensuring the UK Internal Market Bill stays true to that principle that is why we are bringing this bill forward".

Johnson, though, said it was essential to counter "absurd" threats from Brussels including that London put up trade barriers between Britain and Northern Ireland and impose a food blockade - steps he said threatened the UK's unity.

Ministers say this is a failsafe mechanism in case the European Union interprets the agreement, in particular the Northern Ireland Protocol created to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, in an "extreme and unreasonable" way.

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Several of Johnson's own Conservative MPs expressed alarm about breaking global law, with ex-finance minister Sajid Javid and former attorney general Geoffrey Cox among those saying beforehand that they would not back the bill as it stood.

He acknowledged some personal "unease" at giving ministers powers to override the Brexit treaty but said they would not be needed if a trade deal was agreed as hoped with Brussels.

The current version of the bill does not contain such a provision, however Sir Bob Neill, the chairman of the Commons justice committee, has tabled an amendment that would require MPs to approve any use of its powers.

There will be more parliamentary skirmishes in London, which will embarrass Mr Johnson, but opponents concede that he has the numbers to push the measure through the lower House of Commons.

Labour's Ed Miliband, deputising for party leader Keir Starmer who was forced to self-isolate at home, accused Johnson of "legislative hooliganism" for threatening to break a treaty that he had negotiated and successfully won an election campaigning on.

"Either he wasn't straight with the country about the deal in the first place or he didn't understand it".

"We welcome the fact that this vital Bill has passed its second reading", a spokesman for the Government said.

Downing Street has insisted the new bill "protects" the Good Friday Agreement, while the DUP has welcomed the bill and said it was tabling an amendment which will allow the United Kingdom to set state aid rules on goods in the north, rather than the EU.

"It is critical that we pass this Bill before the end of the year".



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