The Internal Market Bill will allow ministers to override provisions in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement relating to Northern Ireland. The Tories have admitted this would break international law in a “very specific and limited way”.
Bernard Jenkin, who chairs the House of Commons Liaison Committee, wrote an article for The Telegraph titled “We are right to reject the Withdrawal Agreement’s worst excesses.”
Sharing the article, he said: “We are right to legislate to reject the Withdrawal Agreement’s worst excesses and will gain international respect for doing so.”
The European Commission has given the UK until the end of the month to drop the legislation. Following a stormy meeting in London on Thursday, the commission warned the UK was putting trade talks at risk and said it would “not be shy” of taking legal action.
In his article, Jenkin wrote: “The government, by accident or by design, has created a huge furore, not just in the UK but around the world, about the key clauses in the UK Internal Market Bill …. Is the wave of extreme anxiety justified? We should note that the EU has not broken off the negotiations, as many thought they would.”
“If the UK extricates itself from the worst aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement, we will gain international respect, not lose it.”
Jenkin said this idea is explained by Sir Christopher Meyer, John Major’s press secretary and Tony Blair’s Ambassador in Washington, who tweeted: “International law is here a red herring. The problem is political not legal: the failure of the EU to negotiate in good faith the future relationship, with the result that, absent an agreement, NI becomes by default a gateway for EU law into GB, unless Parliament takes pre-emptive action.”
Jenkin goes on: People will come to accept that such provisions in our domestic legislation became inevitable. We are in transition: from the complete subordination of the UK legal order; towards the restoration the UK’s full legal independence.
“Our other allies and trading partners will have far more respect for the UK if we stand up for our interests in this way, than if we again submit and remain a non-member subsidiary of the EU.”
Jenkin’s stance was condemned by people across the political spectrum.
Michael Russell, Scotland’s Constitutional Secretary, urged Jenkin to “apologise and reject the bill”.
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