Storm as UK violates EU treaty with proposed law

Brandon Lewis wearing a suit and tie walking on a sidewalk

Brandon Lewis wearing a suit and tie walking on a sidewalk

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney earlier described Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis' admission that the new Brexit-related legislation would break worldwide law as "gravely concerning".

The president of the European Parliament has warned Boris Johnson there will be "serious consequences" if he follows through with his plan to override aspects of a key Brexit agreement.

He said: "I would caution anyone who is thinking about playing politics with Northern Ireland on Brexit".

The UK's Internal Markets Bill states that minister may make provision about the application of exit procedures to goods, or a description of goods when moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, Reuters reported on Wednesday, citing a copy of the legislation.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon vowed to fight the bill, branding it a "full frontal assault on devolution".

Secretary of State Brandon Lewis "didn't display any subtlety" in announcing the British intention to break worldwide law, and there had been no advance "heads up" to Ireland.

"Time is short and we are very much focused on trying to get a positive outcome", he said.

"This is about the rule of law and our resolve and commitment to uphold it", he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"How can we look at countries such as China in the eye and complain about them breaching worldwide obligations over Hong Kong, or indeed Russian Federation over ballistic missiles, or indeed Iran over the nuclear deal, if we go down this road?" he said.

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It comes as businesses have been urged to intensify preparations for 1 January, amid warnings that new rules could prevent Irish firms from trading smoothly with Britain.

"Any attempts by the United Kingdom to undermine the (withdrawal) agreement would have serious consequences", European Parliament president David Sassoli warned.

Boris Johnson is on collision course for a new bust-up with the UK's devolved administrations, with the publication of legislation returning swathes of powers over Scottish and Welsh issues from Brussels to Westminster after Brexit, political editor Andrew Woodcock reports.

In a bill due to be published on Wednesday, Johnson's government plans to give ministers the powers to waive the requirement for such paperwork, should the issue not be settled by joint talks with the European Union this year.

"I think governments are scratching their heads around the world wondering whether they should ever enter into treaties or contracts with the British government if this is their attitude", he told RTE radio.

In the Commons, during a Urgent Question debate on the Northern Ireland protocol, Ms May criticised the move.

Simon Coveney has warned against "playing politics" with Northern Ireland's peace process over Brexit.

A senior foreign policy adviser to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump's opponent in the November election, said the Democrat was "committed to preserving the hard-earned peace & stability in Northern Ireland".

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