ENTERTAINMENT

The Tory revolt grows after Michael Gove admits that critics are "on something".


Boris Johnson is scrambling to find a way to defuse a mounting Tory revolt against the new Brexit laws today.

The Single Market Act cleared its first hurdle in the House of Commons last night, but faces a serious challenge next week if changes are considered.

A number of high-profile Conservatives – including former Prime Minister Theresa May and ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid – have made it clear that they will oppose the legislation in its current form.

Many have raised the alarm that the bill would violate international law by overriding key parts of the Brexit divorce terms in relation to Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister convened his cabinet today after Michael Gove sparked speculation about concessions by telling the House last night that critics of the legislation might be "on something".

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister insisted that Parliament should have a vote if he ever wanted to invoke the unusual powers – to prevent Brussels from “blocking” food exports to NI. In fact, however, every vote seems to be “positive” – after the action has been taken.

The rebels are rallying behind an amendment from former Minister Bob Neill proposing a "parliamentary lockdown" so MPs must approve the repeal of the withdrawal agreement before it does.

One possible way to buy off some rebels would be a less stringent lockdown that restricts ministers' freedom to implement the controversial measures of the bill, while keeping the gun in the arsenal if the EU refuses to move.

A MP involved in the mutiny told MailOnline that the government did not need to completely remove the clauses from legislation, and part of the frustration was that other options, such as the dispute mechanisms in the WA, had not been exhausted.

"I don't think anyone should seriously doubt the need to prepare for these circumstances," said the MP. "You may just need one caveat that these clauses would not come into effect until after the arbitral tribunal has made a final decision."

Boris Johnson rallied his cabinet today as he struggles to find a way to defuse a growing Tory insurgency against new Brexit laws

Michael Gove (pictured today) sparked franchise speculation by telling the house that critics of the legislation might be "on something".

Michael Gove (pictured today) sparked franchise speculation by telling the house that critics of the legislation might be "on something".

Former Prime Minister Theresa May

A number of senior conservatives - including former Prime Minister Theresa May and ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid - have made it clear that they will oppose the legislation in its current form

A number of senior conservatives – including former Prime Minister Theresa May (left) and ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid (right) – have made it clear that they will oppose the legislation in its current form

What is the UK's single market law doing and how are rebels going to change it?

The British Single Market Act is supposed to be a "safety net" in case the EU tries to enforce an "extreme" interpretation of the withdrawal agreement.

If Brussels refused to list the UK as a 'third country', there would effectively be a blockade on mainland food exports to Northern Ireland.

In response, the legislation would give ministers the power to override key parts of the divorce terms – bypassing a joint committee that scrutinizes key issues like customs clearance.

However, critics complain that the move would violate international law – something Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted last week it was.

The Prime Minister insisted that Parliament would get a vote if he ever tried to invoke the unusual powers – to prevent Brussels from "blocking" food exports to NI. In fact, however, every vote seems to be “positive” – after the action has been taken.

Rebels are rallying behind an amendment from former Minister Bob Neill proposing a "parliamentary lockdown" so MPs must approve the repeal of the withdrawal agreement before it does.

One possible way to buy off some rebels would be a less stringent lockdown that limits ministers' freedom to implement the controversial measures of the bill, while keeping the gun in the arsenal if the EU refuses to move.

A MP involved in the mutiny told MailOnline that the government did not need to completely remove the clauses from legislation, and part of the frustration was that other options, such as the dispute mechanisms in the WA, had not been exhausted.

"I don't think anyone should seriously doubt the need to prepare for these circumstances," said the MP. "You may just need one caveat that these clauses would not come into effect until after the arbitral tribunal has made a final decision."

Home Secretary Priti Patel refused this morning to say whether an amendment tabled by Mr Neill could be partially accepted by the government.

However, she insisted that the principle of legislation for the UK was essential to "remain faithful" to Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, Irish Foreign Secretary Simon Coveney called the bill "shocking" – but insisted that he had still not given up hope of a trade deal that could eliminate the need for tariffs.

The UK's single market law passed its second reading by 340 to 263 – a government majority of 77.

But Tories continued to oppose the plans, which have now been scrutinized line by line.

Government whips are preparing for expected votes next week on changes to Northern Ireland regulations that could aid some rebels.

A number of Conservative former ministers have made it clear that they would not support actions that violate international law, including Mr Javid, ex-Cabinet Secretary Andrew Mitchell and two former attorneys-general, Geoffrey Cox and Jeremy Wright.

During last night's debate, Mr Gove said of Mr Neill: “He's an old friend of mine and he's up to something here. He pointed out that we have to show that we are working constructively and I agree.

“That's why we want to reach an agreement through the Joint Committee, which is why we met last week. That is why (Vice-President of the EU Commission) Maroš Šefčovič and I worked together and put our differences aside to reach an agreement.

"It's also why we go to the arbitration board for the first time when we have problems."

Mr. Gove agreed that the withdrawal agreement contains provisions that could be triggered in the event of a dispute. & # 39; We recognize as my darling. A friend suggested that if we cannot reach an agreement we can take steps under Section 16 to ensure our interests are protected, ”he said.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today, Mr Mitchell said, “The proposal that we as lawmakers march through the lobby and say that we will ignore and reject a rule of law-related law we passed; that is totally unacceptable. & # 39;

The former international development minister said the proposals had "generated significant concern and concern on the government's back benches".

During Monday's vote, two Tory MPs – Sir Roger Gale and Andrew Percy – voted against the bill, while 30 did not vote, although some may have been "paired" with opposition MPs.

The government balance sheet was supported by seven DUP representatives.

Ms. Patel defended the need for legislation and informed broadcasters that the Union government was on the side.

“When it comes to upholding the integrity of the United Kingdom and giving the people of Northern Ireland clear support on the Good Friday Agreement, we have said from day one that we will always stand by our word and not compromise on it unrestricted access to goods and services, but is also part of the Good Friday Agreement, ”she said at the BBC breakfast.

"We are making sure that UK Internal Market Act adheres to this principle. That is why we are bringing this bill forward."

What did the five living former prime ministers say about Boris Johnson's Brexit plans?

Theresa May: The UK government has signed the Northern Ireland Protocol Take Back Agreement. This Parliament approved this withdrawal agreement into UK legislation. The government is now changing the way this agreement works. How can the government reassure prospective international partners that the UK can be trusted to comply with the legal obligations of the agreements it has signed? "

David Cameron: “Passing a law of parliament and then breaking an international treaty is the very last thing you should think about. It should be an absolute last resort. So I have concerns about what is being proposed. & # 39;

Gordon Brown: & # 39; This is a great act of self harm. We knew there was a debate about fisheries and state aid, but the argument about breaking an international treaty exploding has been condemned by so many people. & # 39;

Tony Blair: "While the world looks in horror at Britain, whose word was once accepted as sacrosanct, the action of this government puts itself to shame and embarrasses our nation."

Sir John Major: “For generations, the solemn word of Great Britain has been accepted by friend and foe. Our signing of any contract or agreement was sacrosanct. Over the past century, when our military strength has weakened, our word has retained its power. If we lose our reputation for delivering on promises we have made, we have lost something that is beyond the price and may never be regained. & # 39;

Mr Johnson, who took the unusual step yesterday of opening the debate on the draft law itself, said the legislation was necessary to prevent the EU from interpreting the provisions of the readmission agreement in relation to Northern Ireland "extremely and unreasonably".

He said some in Brussels were threatening to block UK agricultural and food exports to the EU and insist on tariffs on all goods transported to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

"As absurd and self-destructive as this would be in this debate, the EU has still not taken this revolver off the table," he said.

He said this could mean levies of 61 percent on Welsh lamb, 90 percent on Scottish beef and 100 percent on Devonshire curd, and create "customs borders in our own country."

During the fiery exchange with the Prime Minister, Shadow Trade Secretary Ed Miliband, who stands for party chairman Sir Keir Starmer, who is in coronavirus self-isolation, said Mr Johnson was solely responsible for signing the exit terms.

"Either he wasn't directly with the country about the deal at all or he didn't get it," said Miliband.

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

Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons Justice Committee, who tabled an amendment requiring a vote of parliament before ministers can exercise the new powers in the bill, urged MPs to "take the opportunity to amend these clauses as well." to improve".

When asked if ministers were likely to accept Sir Bob's proposed changes, Ms. Patel told the Today program that the draft single market in the Conservative Party's manifesto "keeps" promises to Northern Ireland regarding unrestricted trade access.

"I don't think at the moment that it is even appropriate to comment on amendments that may or may not be tabled," she added.

The fact is that the Joint Committee was set up to sort out the very clear inconsistencies surrounding the Protocol (Northern Ireland).

“We still want to reach an agreement with the EU and as a government we will focus on achieving that, but through this bill we now want to have the safeguards and mechanisms to ensure that we remain loyal to the people of Northern Ireland. & # 39;

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