UK Politics

This controversial piece of Brexit legislation does exactly what critics feared

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There were rumours of the government backing away on Monday.

On Tuesday night suggestions surfaced it might pull the bill altogether. But no.

The most controversial piece of legislation, judged even against these recent turbulent times, emerged shortly after Prime Ministers' Questions – and does exactly what the government briefed and its critics feared.

Controversial Brexit changes published

Boris Johnson has pressed ahead with legislation to give his government the power to override the Withdrawal Agreement.

The United Kingdom Internal Market Bill lists all the legislation that can now, once this is approved by parliament, be ignored by ministers.

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This includes, not only, as expected, the Northern Ireland Protocol, and "other provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement" but also – incredibly – "any other EU law or international law".

There is no further detail why this is necessary in the accompanying explanatory notes. Or why it doubles down a few lines later that this law can override "any other legislation, convention or rule of international or domestic law whatsoever, including any order, judgement or decision of the Europe Court or of any other court or tribunal".

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Extraordinary language.

And this will do nothing to dampen the fears of Tory rebels headed by Theresa May, who is hardly a natural Commons rebel, along with the band of Tory select committee chairs.

Added to them are all Downing Street's more traditional enemies – Labour who say it's wrong, lawyers who decry the breach of principle and EU officials warning breaches of good faith have consequences.

A senior UK politician told the countrys parliament on September 8 that proposed legislation related to Brexit “does break international law in a very specific and limited way.”
Minister admits new bill will break law

This is what Downing Street want. They enjoy reducing Brexit to a binary row, fought in the TV studios and commons chamber, in which they can label opponents as enemies of Brexit.

It is the political ground they feel most comfortable about fighting. Number 10 relishing the fact that this is a defeat looming for opponents of a tough stance on Brexit.

But is it quite that simple? And if it is, why are some leading Brexiteers also feeling let down?

This bill gives ministers extraordinary powers to defy international laws, particularly over state aid and border checks but potentially over other areas too.

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