Michael Gove has defended plans to override parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to protect the UK’s “integrity”.
The cabinet minister said Britain was “generous”
The EU has threatened legal action over the Single Market Act, which ministers say will violate international law “specifically and in a limited way”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson urges Tory MPs to support this after some concerns.
The bill, which will be officially debated in the House of Commons for the first time on Monday, deals with the Northern Ireland Protocol – the part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement designed to prevent a hard border from returning to the island of Ireland.
If this were to become law, it would give UK ministers the power to change or “disappear” when the UK and the EU regulate the movement of goods between the UK and Northern Ireland, which will come into force on January 1st unable to conclude a trade agreement.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told the Commons that the bill, which would violate the UK-EU withdrawal agreement, “would violate international law in very specific and limited ways”.
But Mr Gove said the attorney general said the proposal was in line with the rule of law – and that it was important to have an “insurance policy”.
He insisted that the government be “proportionate and generous” in its approach to the EU talks.
Mr Gove said: “These steps are a safety net, they are a long stop in case I don’t think will happen, but we have to be ready for the EU to do what some have.” said they could do this to separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. “
While admitting it was a “crunch moment”, he insisted, “we have the support of our own MPs”.
No more “wretched arguments”
The EU and UK have less than five weeks to reach an agreement before October 15th. He then declares that he is ready to “go away”.
The informal talks are due to resume on Monday. The next official round of talks – the ninth since March – begins on September 28 in Brussels.
The EU says the proposed changes need to be scrapped or they could jeopardize the UK-EU trade talks, and the European Parliament says that under no circumstances will they ratify a UK-EU trade deal if the UK does Authorities violate the law or threaten “the revocation agreement.
On Friday, Mr Johnson had a Zoom call with about 250 of his MPs saying the party could not return to “wretched arguments” over Europe.
Conservative backbencher Sir Bob Neill, chairman of the Commons Justice Committee, said he was not reassured by the prime minister’s Zoom appeal. He tabled an amendment to the bill to try to force a separate parliamentary vote on amendments to the withdrawal agreement. “I think it is potentially a harmful act for this country, it would damage our reputation and I think it will make it more difficult to get trade deals in the future,” he said.
Former Conservative Party leaders Theresa May, Lord Howard and Sir John Major are also among high-profile figures who urge Mr Johnson to reconsider.
Both Ireland and the EU have warned that Mr Johnson’s plans pose a serious risk to the peace process instead of protecting the Good Friday Agreement as the government claims.
Mr Johnson wrote that it had become clear that there could be a “serious misunderstanding” between the UK and the EU regarding the withdrawal agreement and said the UK needed to be protected from an EU “disaster” in order to divide up “ours” can land “and” endanger peace and stability in Northern Ireland “.
He said there was still a “very good chance” that the UK and the EU could reach an agreement by mid-October similar to the one previously agreed between the EU and Canada – which would remove most, but not all, tariffs on goods.
However, in a column in the Daily Telegraph, he accused the EU of adopting an “extreme” interpretation of the Northern Ireland Protocol to impose “a comprehensive trade border along the Irish Sea” that could stop the movement of food from Britain to Northern Ireland .
Mr Gove told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that it was “irrational” not to allow food to be transported in this way, which would happen if Britain were not admitted to a third country. Such a listing is required for the export of food.