European Union leaders stepped up pressure on Boris Johnson’s government to fully implement the Brexit deal and drop a controversial bill that would tear up part of the divorce agreement.
“International credibility of U.K. signature at stake,” Charles Michel, the president of the EU leaders’ council, said on Twitter.
Michel said he had discussed the issue by telephone with Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin.
The EU and U.K. are at loggerheads over the Internal Market Bill, a controversial measure proposed this month that the British government has conceded breaks international law. The bill would alter commitments made in the Brexit deal regarding Northern Ireland, a move that critics say could undermine the peace treaty that ended decades of armed conflict there.
“We agreed this delicate compromise with @BorisJohnson & his gov in order to protect peace & stability on island of Ireland,” Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, tweeted.
The EU has given the U.K. three weeks to amend the legislation or face legal action. Johnson is also facing a rebellion by members of his own government over the measures.
Johnson defended the bill in a Telegraph newspaper article on Saturday and called on the bloc to take its threats off the table. The measures are needed to protect the free flow of goods and services between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K., Johnson wrote.
Former prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major slammed Johnson over the bill in a joint opinion piece in the Sunday Times, saying it imperiled the Good Friday accord that has led to more than two decades of peace and damages the country’s credibility.
“It raises questions that go far beyond the impact on Ireland, the peace process and negotiations for a trade deal — crucial though they are,” they wrote. “It questions the very integrity of our nation. If the government succeeds in its plans, what constitutional audacity will be beyond it?”