MPs express anger during Internal Market Bill debate

Remigio Civitarese
Settembre 16, 2020

Sir Roger Gale and Andrew Percy - voted against the Bill, while 30 did not cast a vote although some may have been "paired" with opposition MPs.

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.

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.

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

But the legislation would see London unilaterally regulate United Kingdom trade and state aid within Northern Ireland - in violation of the Brexit treaty, that demands Brussels have a say.

Sir Roger said: "I took a view that you fight this tooth and nail at every step". Others have quite clearly decided they want to hold their fire for Bob Neill's amendment.

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

He said it erodes trust and makes complex negotiations even more hard.

The big challenge for the negotiating teams is to resolve issues that "make this legislation irrelevant" in a bid to secure a deal that is acceptable to all parties, Mr Coveney said speaking on his way into a Cabinet meeting.

Addressing concerns over the Bill, Lord Keen, one of the Government's law officers, insisted he did not believe it to be in breach of global law.

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".

During the debate, Labour's shadow business secretary Ed Miliband ridiculed Mr Johnson's previous election catchphrase of "get Brexit done" by warning the bill "gets Brexit undone", adding: "I never thought respecting global law would in my lifetime be a matter of disagreement".

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

An amendment introduced by Labour leader Keir Starmer would have stopped the bill from progressing to a second reading, arguing that it "undermines the Withdrawal Agreement already agreed by Parliament", however the provision was defeated 349 to 213, despite a number of Tory abstentions and one Conservative "yes" vote.

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

Andrew Mitchell hit out at clauses in the United Kingdom government's Internal Market Bill.

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

Under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Northern Ireland remains closely aligned with the EU's internal market, in order to prevent a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

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

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