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Is Boris Johnson on the way to a Brexit collision course with Joe Biden?


Ministers insist that new US President Joe Biden wrongly believes that Boris Johnson is endangering peace in Northern Ireland by threatening to revoke parts of the Brexit deal.

The prime minister promised to press ahead with legislation that would give him the power to override the withdrawal agreement.

That is despite a major defeat at the House of Lords tonight, in which several controversial parts of the were removed.

One of the clauses that were deleted in a bipartisan amendment was part five of the bill, which gives ministers the power to violate the Brexit withdrawal agreement brokered with Brussels last year.

The clause had sparked outrage among opposition MPs who accused the government of threatening a violation of international law.

However, the government insisted that it will simply reinstate removed portions of the bill when it returns to the Commons next month, despite the risk that doing so could create early tension with Mr Biden.

The Prime Minister pledged to press ahead with legislation that would give him the power to repeal the withdrawal agreement with the EU despite an expected defeat at the Lords tonight

The president-elect, who is proud of his Irish heritage, has criticized the bill that will amend the Northern Ireland-related issues in the readmission agreement should trade negotiations with the EU collapse.

During his campaign, he warned that a trade deal with the US was "dependent" on preventing a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland, saying the peace process could not "become a victim of Brexit".

Cabinet Secretary George Eustice yesterday suggested that Mr Biden bought a "caricature" of the government's plans and wrongly assumed that they might pose a threat to the peace process.

Instead, the environment minister insisted that the bill should protect the Good Friday Agreement from the risk of disrupting trade between the UK and Northern Ireland in the event of a no deal with the EU.

When asked about Mr Biden's concerns, Mr Eustice told BBC Radio 4's Today program that if people understood what this law was about and not, as is sometimes caricatured, it would see it Protecting the peace process.

"The point here is to ensure legal clarity, legal certainty and the protection of the internal market in the UK, but to stand decisively behind the Belfast Agreement," he said.

Ministers insist that new US President Joe Biden wrongly believes that Boris Johnson is endangering peace in Northern Ireland by threatening to revoke parts of the Brexit deal

Ministers insist that new US President Joe Biden wrongly believes that Boris Johnson is endangering peace in Northern Ireland by threatening to revoke parts of the Brexit deal

& # 39; This law is about protecting the Belfast Accords by ensuring that we in Northern Ireland have economic and social stability. It's about protecting it, not undermining it. & # 39;

In the Lords, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby expressed concern that the bill "fails to take into account the sensitivities and complexities of Northern Ireland and could have unintended and grave consequences for peace and reconciliation".

The Archbishop noted that he had previously said that the main purpose of the Lords was "to change and improve the legislation, not to derail it".

He added, “But I think I was wrong to say that. Defending the rule of law and protecting the balance between power and peace in our Union is even more important.

"This is about the basic values ​​by which we as a nation stand and live now and in the years to come."

Former Conservative leader Lord Howard said: “How can we blame other countries – Russia, China, Iran – when their behavior becomes objectionable, when we ourselves pay so little attention to the treaties we sign, when we ourselves are so deplorable Give example? & # 39;

In the Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, voiced concerns that the bill "fails to take into account the sensitivities and complexities of Northern Ireland and could have unintended and grave consequences for peace and reconciliation" (file picture)

In the Lords, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, expressed concern that the bill "fails to take into account the sensitivities and complexities of Northern Ireland and could have unintended and grave consequences for peace and reconciliation" (File Image)

Former Chancellor Lord Clarke said the government drafting the legislation was "a Donald Trump-like gesture".

He claimed the bill was "in itself ridiculous and harmful to the reputation of this country".

Before the Lords Debate, No. 10 defended the legislation. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: “MEPs backed the Single Market Law by 340 votes to 263 in September and we continue to believe that the clauses are an important safety net.

“We realized that as a responsible government we cannot allow the peace process or UK domestic markets to be inadvertently compromised by unintended consequences of the protocol.

"Any changes made by the Lord will be taken into account when they return to the House of Commons. However, we consider these clauses an important safety net."

The bill is not expected to return to the Commons by early December as there are more stages to clarify in the Lords.

There have been suggestions that Downing Street could avoid conflict with the White House by exiting the legislature without reinserting the clauses when brokering a trade deal with the EU.

The government suffers a heavy defeat because of the controversial "illegal" Brexit powers

Boris Johnson suffered two major defeats over his controversial Brexit legislation when peers were deprived of powers that would allow ministers to break international law.

Cross-party amendments have been tabled to remove clauses related to the most controversial part of the draft law, the fifth part, which gives ministers the power to breach the withdrawal agreement brokered with Brussels last year.

The House of Lords voted by 433 votes to 165 and a majority of 268 to delete Clause 42 – one of the disputed sections – and Clause 43 was deleted without a vote.

They then voted by 407 votes to 148 and a majority of 259 against Clause 44 relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

All other controversial clauses were removed without a vote.

The defeats are believed to be some of the greatest to which the Lords government has suffered for several years.

Ministers have insisted that repeal powers are needed to protect UK-Northern Ireland relations. However, critics argue that the powers are not required.

Baroness Angela Smith, Labor leader in the House of Lords, said in a statement: “I am sure that some government officials will initially respond with flying colors and seek to reject the historic voices of today's Lords.

“However, this would underestimate the real and serious concerns across the UK and beyond that ministers are going beyond the rule of law.

"The government should make sense, accept the repeal of these offensive clauses, and begin to rebuild our international reputation."

The split list showed that 44 Conservative colleagues rebelled to vote to remove clause 42 from the bill.

These included Lord Howard, ex-Brexit minister Lord Bridges of Headley and former chief whip Lord Young of Cookham.

Opponents of Clause 42 of the bill also included nine bishops, 115 independent crossbenchers, 156 Labor colleagues and 81 Liberal Democrats.

Another 38 conservative colleagues opposed clause 44.

Cited a call for the Prime Minister to "reconsider" and remove the controversial parts of the UK's Single Market Act, Conservative former leader Lord Howard von Lympne warned that the government is using "lawbreakers" language everywhere.

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