The controversial Single Markets Law cleared its first two hurdles in the House of Commons tonight when Labor's offer to dump it failed, despite fears it would violate international law.
Boris Johnson 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 claims some in Brussels have now threatened to block UK exports to the EU and to insist on tariffs on all goods transported to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
The opposition's amendment to abolish the controversial law failed on Monday evening, winning just 213 votes in favor compared to 349 against.
MEPs have now also voted to give the UK Internal Market Act a second reading of 340 to 263 – a government majority of 77.
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 the support of seven DUP MPs.
The Commons will begin a detailed, line-by-line review of the bill on Tuesday. Votes are expected next week on changes to Northern Ireland regulations that some Tories may support.
Boris Johnson accused the EU today of laying a "revolver" in the form of an alleged threat to block UK food exports to Northern Ireland during trade talks as he defended his plans to suspend parts of the readmission agreement
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) leaves the House of Commons in London after the UK's single market law cleared its first Commons hurdle
Michael Gove has now accused the European Union of not always being constructive in talks about post-Brexit trade relations, and he called on lawmakers to support a government bill that would violate the divorce deal between London and Brussels.
Voted against the government (2 MPs):
- Sir Roger Gale
- Andrew Percy
Included for having spoken out against the government (13 MPs):
- Sir Robert Neill
- Geoffrey Cox
- Simon Hoare
- George Freeman
- Tobias Ellwood
- Gary Streeter
- Rehman Chishti
- Jack Lopresti
- Sajid Javid
- Charles Walker
- Jeremy Wright
- Ben Spencer
- Sir Oliver Heald
Abstention, reasons unclear * (17 MPs):
- Andrew Stuart
- Crispin Blunt
- Karen Bradley
- Sir Graham Brady
- Sir Christopher Chop
- Jackie Doyle Prize
- Dr. Liam Fox
- Richard Graham
- Stephen Hammond
- James Heappey
- Damian Hinds
- Sir Edward Leigh
- Tim Loughton
- Theresa May
- Owen Paterson
- Julian Smith
- John Stevenson
** There are several legitimate reasons people can abstain without upset the whips, such as: B. the pairing with a rival MP who cannot vote for health reasons.
"The EU has not always been the constructive partner we have all hoped for," said Gove in his closing remarks at the end of a House of Commons debate on the controversial internal market law.
& # 39; We were told we were going to get a Canada deal. That's not on the table, ”Gove said, adding that on the controversial issue of fisheries, the EU's stance was to have the right to fish in UK waters, as it was before Brexit.
It comes after Boris Johnson today accused the European Union of putting a "revolver" on the table during trade talks when he went on the block for allegedly threatening to block food exports from the UK to Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister said the EU had signaled in recent months that it was ready to make "extreme and unreasonable efforts" if it did not prevail in negotiations.
He said the bloc intends to apply the measures contained in the Brexit divorce deal in a way that goes beyond common sense to leverage the UK.
He said the "most glaring example" was the EU's proposal to ban UK food exports to the bloc, which would also create "an immediate and automatic ban on the transfer of our animal products from the UK to Northern Ireland".
The Prime Minister said the EU is effectively threatening to "block" the movement of goods "within our own country", claiming that Brussels has "not yet taken that particular revolver off the table".
The Prime Minister spoke in the House of Commons this afternoon as he tried to quell a Tory riot over his plans to tear apart portions of the readmission agreement.
Labor shadow business secretary Ed Miliband, who stood up for Sir Keir Starmer, accused the prime minister of "legislative hooliganism" and "incompetence".
MEPs will vote for the first time this evening on the UK government's single market law. The legislation would allow ministers to repeal parts of the divorce agreement that was signed with Brussels last year.
Ministers have admitted the proposals would violate international law, and a growing number of Tory MPs have said they cannot support the bill.
Former Chancellor Sajid Javid said this afternoon that "I do not understand why the UK has to break international law" and "unfortunately cannot support the Prime Minister's proposals".
Former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox, a QC and staunch Brexiteer, echoed a similar sentiment when he described the idea of violating international law as "irresponsible".
Meanwhile, Tory MP Rehman Chishti resigned this morning as the prime minister's special envoy on freedom of religion or belief because he believed he was against the bill "When we give our word, we must honor it".
Regardless, David Cameron was today the fifth former Prime Minister to condemn Mr Johnson's plans for saying that a violation of international law should do so Always only be an "absolute last resort" and that he had "concerns" about the approach.
The shadow trade secretary Ed Miliband accused the prime minister of "legislative hooliganism".
Former Theresa May chief Geoffrey Cox (pictured together in 2019) said it was "incomprehensible" for the government to override the divorce treaty for Brexit
Brexit: what happens next?
MEPs will vote tonight, probably at 10 p.m., on whether to pass the UK's single market law at second reading – the first hurdle a new law has to overcome.
The government should easily win the vote, but all eyes will be on how many Tory MPs abstain or vote against the legislation.
The draft law phase will start tomorrow when MPs will review the fundamentals of the draft law and propose changes.
The main flashpoint is unlikely to be until next Monday when MPs start discussing provisions relating to Northern Ireland.
An amendment by Tory MP Bob Neill, which would give parliament a veto against any attempt by the prime minister to override the readmission agreement, will then be voted on next Tuesday.
According to reports, up to 30 Tory MPs could rebel against the change, which with an 80 majority still wouldn't be enough for the government to lose.
However, such a result would massively damage Boris Johnson's authority. Whether or not to punish the rebels with the withdrawal of the Tory whip would also give number 10 a massive headache.
The legislation will allow the UK to unilaterally take decisions on key issues such as the customs arrangements between mainland UK and Northern Ireland that are included in the withdrawal agreement.
Brussels firmly believes that decisions must be taken by a joint committee made up of people from both sides – as stipulated in the Treaty.
However, the government argues that its new proposals are necessary to protect the integrity of the UK in the event that both sides fail to agree terms.
The government will almost certainly win the first vote on the legislation as tonight Mr Johnson has an 80-strong majority and supports the DUP.
However, many Tories are alarmed at the potential impact a rejection could have on the UK's global standing and could support an amendment to introduce a "parliamentary lockdown" later in the process.
Mr Johnson tried to win over conservative rebels by telling the Commons that the legislation "should be welcomed by anyone who cares about the sovereignty and integrity of our UK".
He explained his reasons for trying to override parts of the Brexit divorce agreement: “I am sorry to inform the House that the EU has proposed over the past few months that extreme and inadequate efforts be made.
“To use the Northern Ireland Protocol in a way that is way beyond common sense to simply leverage our free trade agreement negotiations against Britain.
“To take the most glaring example, the EU has said that if we don't reach an agreement to their satisfaction, they may very well refuse to put Britain's food and agricultural products for sale across the EU.
“And it gets worse because that decision under this protocol would create an immediate and automatic ban on the transfer of our animal products from the UK to Northern Ireland.
EU delays euro clearing decision due to threat from Boris Brexit law
The European Union will postpone a decision to allow clearing houses in London to continue processing euro transactions for customers based in the EU as the UK plans to violate part of the Brexit divorce deal.
The delay is one of the EU's first warning shots as MPs will later vote on a bill that would violate parts of the UK's withdrawal agreement from the bloc.
Brussels had announced that it would grant Great Britain temporary access to the clearing of euro derivatives from January in order to avoid a huge disruption of the markets, as a unit of the London Stock Exchange (LSE) settles over 90 percent of the euro-denominated swaps, which far are common by companies.
The European Commission should officially take that decision later this week but is expected to postpone it until around the end of the month, Reuters reported, citing a derivatives industry source.
The Commission did not have an immediate opinion.
The delay was tied to the fact that Britain no longer selected the withdrawal agreement signed with the bloc, the source added.
The UK left the EU in January and transitional arrangements that still allow full access to the bloc ended on December 31st. Without legal certainty for access to the EU, the LSE clearinghouse LCH has to grant its customers within the block a notice period of three months for swap positions worth billions of euros outside the UK.
Euro clearing has long been a battleground between the UK, trying to maintain London's influence as a global financial center, and EU policymakers who believe that most of the Eurozone's activity should take place under the eyes of the European Central Bank.
However, relocating large swap positions from LCH to competitors such as Deutsche Börse's Eurex in Frankfurt in a short period of time would be costly for banks and unsettled the markets.
Brussels had therefore chosen to allow more time for this, although it was not stated how much time it was.
If Britain's bill to repeal portions of its Brexit divorce deal becomes law, it could spoil its attempts to gain access to other financial activities in the bloc like trading stocks.
"Our interlocutors, on the other hand, are considering the possibility of blocking food and agricultural transports within our own country."
He added: “I have to say that this action would be absurd and self-destructive, even if we are discussing this matter, the EU has not taken that particular revolver off the table.
"I hope that they do this and that we can also achieve a free trade agreement based on the Canadian model."
Mr Miliband accused Mr Johnson of presiding over “legislative hooliganism” and told the Commons, “I don't get this. He signed the deal, it's his deal, it's the deal he said would protect the people of Northern Ireland.
"And I have to tell him, this is not just legislative hooliganism on any issue, but on the most sensitive issues of all."
The shadow business secretary said Mr Johnson previously praised the withdrawal agreement he had entered into, but now insists that it is "contradicting and ambiguous".
Mr. Miliband added, “What incompetence. What a failure of governance. And how dare he blame everyone else?
“Can I tell the Prime Minister this time he can't blame (Theresa May), he can't blame John Major, he can't blame the judges, he can't blame the officials, he can't dismiss the cabinet secretary again.
“There is only one person responsible for this and that is him. This is his business, it's his mess, it's his failure. & # 39;
Mr Johnson faces significant dissatisfaction on the Tory benches with his plans to violate international law, as a number of high-ranking figures have now expressed their opposition to the law.
Mr Javid said this afternoon: “A violation of international law is a step that should never be taken lightly. After carefully examining the UK Internal Market Act, I do not see why this is necessary. & # 39;
The former chancellor said he could "not support the UK's preventive opposition".
"I will therefore unfortunately not be able to support the bill in its second reading and I will ask the government to amend it in the coming days," he added.
Meanwhile, Mr. Cox, who served as attorney general under Ms. May and Mr. Johnson until his February release, broke ranks last night to condemn the legislation.
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. Given its prospective international partners, how can the government assure 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. During the last century, when our military strength has weakened, our word has retained its power. If we lose our reputation for delivering on the promises we made, we have lost something that is beyond the price and may never be regained. & # 39;
He said Mr Johnson should "not keep the contractual obligations cross-fingered" and added that he could not support a bill that could "undermine the reputation of the UK in the world".
Mr Cox, who was dismissed from cabinet in February of the reshuffle, wrote in The Times: "It is not surprising that this country, rightly known for its respect for the rule of law around the world, should act like this."
He then said this morning that the government "knew" what it was signing when it agreed and ratified the withdrawal agreement.
He told Times Radio, “What I can say from my point of view is that we simply cannot approve or advocate a situation where we have taken our word for it, and not just by the British Government and on behalf of the British Crown , but also solemnly given by Parliament ratified this in February, unless there are extreme circumstances leading to a breach of duty by the EU in good faith.
"In these circumstances, we have lawful remedies that we should take instead of violating international law and a solemn treaty."
He continued, “Breaking the law ultimately results in very long-term and permanent damage to the reputation of this country, and it is also a matter of honor for me.
"We signed up, we knew what we signed, we just can't try to reverse these common consequences and I just can't support that."
Number 10 has previously dismissed criticism from Mr Cox, stating that the bill will "protect seamless trade and jobs in all four corners of the UK after the end of the transition period".
"It will guarantee that UK businesses can operate freely in all parts of the UK while maintaining world-leading standards for consumers and workers who rely on them," said the Prime Minister's spokesman.
"It will also provide an important legal safety net and clear up ambiguity in the event that no agreement is reached in the Northern Ireland Protocol Joint Committee."
"It protects the integrity of the UK's internal market, ensures that ministers can meet their obligations to Northern Ireland at all times, and protects the gains from the peace process."
The government was shaken this morning by Mr. Chishti's decision to resign as special envoy.
In his letter of resignation to Mr Johnson, he said: “After reading your letter to colleagues and other statements on this matter, I cannot, in principle, support this bill.
& # 39; I have real concerns that the UK is unilaterally violating its legal obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.
Tory MP Rehman Chishti resigned today as the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Freedom of Religion or Belief for opposing UK Single Market Law
Mr Chishti said he could not support the legislation because it would "unilaterally break" UK legal obligations
“During my 10 years in parliament and before that as a lawyer, I always acted according to the rule of law.
“I'm very interested in keeping the commitments we make. When we give our word, we must honor it.
"Voting for this bill in its current form would contradict the values that are close to my heart."
He added: "I am just too sorry that our difference on this matter means that I cannot fundamentally vote for the bill in its current form and therefore cannot continue to serve as your special envoy."
Mr. Chishti was named the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Freedom of Religion or Belief in September last year, charged with promoting Britain's "firm stance" on religious freedom and tolerance around the world.
The role of the Federal Foreign Office has included helping people around the world who are persecuted for their beliefs or beliefs.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman said Mr. Johnson thanked Mr. Chishti for his service and "wishes him all the best for the future".
He added: “But I think we have made the rationale for the action related to the Northern Ireland Protocol very clear. The Prime Minister thinks it is critical that it be passed. & # 39;
Mr Cameron's intervention this morning means every living former prime minister has now come out against Mr Johnson's plans after criticism from Theresa May, Sir John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.
Mr Cameron told Sky News: “Passing a parliamentary bill and then violating an international treaty is the very last thing you should think about.
& # 39; It should be an absolute last resort. So I have concerns about what is being proposed. & # 39;
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland (pictured) yesterday defended the government's Brexit legislation, saying it was "in line with the most honorable traditions of the British state".
However, the ex-Tory leader suggested viewing Mr Johnson's plans in the broader context of the government's attempts to reach a post-Brexit trade deal with Brussels.
He said, “So far the government has proposed a law that it could pass or not pass, or apply or not apply, depending on whether certain circumstances arise or not.
“And of course the bigger picture here is that we are in an important negotiation with the European Union to reach an agreement and I think we need to keep this context, this great price, in mind.
"And that's why I may have held back from saying more until now."
A spokesman for the European Commission today reiterated the EU's position that the take-back agreement must be tied to “no ifs, no buts”.
"We played a straight bat," said the spokesman.
"We have made this very clear and the rest is frankly an internal UK debate."
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland yesterday defended the proposed legislation as "in accordance with the most honorable traditions of the British state".
However, he also made a thinly veiled threat to resign if the legislation is abused.
Mr Buckland was told to stop and critics said the move was inconsistent with his own oath as Lord Chancellor to abide by the law.
"If I see the rule of law being broken in a way that I find unacceptable, of course I'll go," said Buckland.
Tonight's second reading vote marks the first legislative hurdle, which caused a storm last week when Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted it would violate international law.
The EU has threatened to break down negotiations on a future trade deal unless the UK steps down by the end of the month.
Mr Barnier said yesterday that he is not refusing to list the UK as a so-called third country for food export purposes. However, the listing could only be made if the UK explained its biosecurity rules
In an exchange with Mr Barnier on Twitter last night, Lord Frost hit back: “The EU knows all the details of our rules on food standards very well because we apply EU rules
The main showdown in the House of Commons is likely to be based on an amendment put together by Tory's former minister Bob Neill.
That could attract dozens of Tory rebels next week, though it still seems difficult to overthrow the massive 80-seat government majority.
Mr Johnson's chief negotiator for Brexit, David Frost, and his EU counterpart Michel Barnier had a heated argument on Twitter yesterday over the issue of food exports.
Mr Barnier denied the threat to block UK food exports should trade talks collapse.
However, Lord Frost said the EU negotiator had made the threat "explicit" and warned that UK food could be banned from sales in Northern Ireland.
Eau no! End of the perfume bargain duty free
Airport duty free bargains will end on January 1st with goods like perfume, clothing and electronics.
The ministers announced that tax savings would only apply to the sale of alcohol and tobacco.
The decision, which affects all outbound passengers, has been labeled a "hammer blow" for warring airports. Up to 40 percent of their income comes from airside retailers.
Industry experts say it could result in thousands of job losses as business moves away from airports.
They fear that some regional airports could even go bankrupt.
It has stepped up calls for an airport covid test regime to reopen the UK skies.
Karen Dee, General Manager of the Airport Operators Association said: “Passengers are no longer encouraged to make purchases while traveling around the UK.
"Many foreign visitors will now choose to go elsewhere, attracted by the favorable tax and excise systems of our European competitors."
Francois Bourienne, Chair of the UK Travel Retail Forum added: "It is possibly the best gift Britain could have given the EU and a blow to UK plc."
The Treasury Department said the decision was made "because the tax break was not always passed on to consumers at the airport".
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