September 9, 2020 – The UK government has published proposed legislation that would override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Internal Market Bill could potentially breach international law, jeopardising UK hopes of securing trade deals with the EU and U.S. if passed.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson signed the Withdrawal Agreement in October 2019 and confirmed the UK’s departure from the bloc.
In parliament today, Johnson defended the bill saying it was “about protecting jobs, protecting growth and ensuring the fluidity and safety of our internal market.”
Critics say the move will damage the UK’s international standing after a minister admitted the plans break international law.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted the bill would break international law in a “very specific and limited way.” It would allow the UK government to overrule the EU legal concept of “direct effect.” The idea gives EU law supremacy over UK law in areas covered by the Withdrawal Agreement — in “certain, very tightly defined circumstances,” he told MPs in the Commons.
The European Commission has called for an extraordinary meeting to discuss the bill — and the Scottish government has not ruled out legal action to prevent it from becoming law.