Brexit: Internal Market Bill clears first hurdle in Commons

Theresa Villiers

Theresa Villiers

"The breaking of the law ultimately leads to very long-term and permanent damage to this country's reputation".

"It's a protection, it's a safety net, it's an insurance policy and it's a very sensible measure", he said.

The bill was passed by a government majority of 77 on Monday evening, with 340 MPs for to 263 against.

"We should be getting on with defeating this virus, not reigniting old rows", Labour leader Keir Starmer wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.

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

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.

"We are fully committed to implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland protocol", he told reporters. "They are an insurance policy and if we reach agreement with our European friends, which I still believe is possible, they will never be invoked".

A Kent MP has resigned as special envoy on freedom of religion or belief in protest at the Prime Minster's plans to override the Brexit deal.

"I will not be able to support the bill on a matter of principle", Chishti, a Brexit supporter, said in a letter to the prime minister he posted on Twitter.

"I do have misgivings about what is being proposed", Cameron told reporters.

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"I feel strongly about keeping the commitments we make; if we give our word, then we must honor it. Voting for this Bill as it now stands would be contrary to the values, I hold dearest".

The proposed legislation has prompted a wave of anger both at Westminster and in Brussels over the plan to give ministers the power to alter key elements of the UK's Withdrawal Agreement, which was formally signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in January. Brexit will also hurt a different set of firms than those hit the most by the pandemic, Goldman said. He insisted the EU had made unfair demands to "exert leverage" in Brexit trade talks, including threats to block food exports, and said the Internal Markets bill would prevent European negotiators from taking an "extreme and unreasonable" stance on the withdrawal agreement.

"As we go to the wire, let's see more British statecraft - less Nixonian madman theory", he said, referring to a manipulative strategy associated with the former United States president.

But Johnson claimed the European Union was ready to go to "extreme and unreasonable lengths" and to use these arrangements to "exert leverage" in the trade negotiations.

Ed Milliband, business spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, accused Johnson of "trashing the reputation of this country and trashing the reputation of his office".

He said: "It is about two issues where they're going to override worldwide law".

Former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid has said in a statement that he is unable to support the Internal Market Bill introduced by the British prime minister.

Geoffrey Cox, who was the government's top legal officer when Johnson negotiated the Brexit withdrawal agreement less than a year ago, said reneging on the deal would be an "unconscionable" breach of global law.

Theresa May, John Major and Labour former PMs Tony Blair and Gordon Brown had already spoken out.

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