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Theresa May is mad at Boris Johnson

Theresa May, a former UK Prime Minister and now a Conservative MP, harshly criticized current UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is part of her own party. In a speech in the House of Commons, the lower house of the UK Parliament, May accused the government of being “ruthless” and “irresponsible” in the ongoing Brexit negotiations, specifically highlighting the possibility that Johnson might violate some clauses of the Right of withdrawal, that is the agreement reached with the European Union last year.

The UK government publicly acknowledged a few days ago its readiness to violate part of the agreement: something that would have few precedents in Europe and is likely to violate international law and with various consequences for future relations between the UK and the European Union .

May is not used to attacking her successor in government publicly and so harshly: this is why her words have been seen as a signal of the intolerance of the party’s more moderate wing of the Brexit negotiating lines that Johnson is addressing the European Union.

The ongoing negotiations concern future trade agreements between the European Union and the UK, ie those that will regulate a piece of bilateral relations from January 2021, when the UK also leaves the internal market and customs union (the ‘political Brexit’), “Let’s say so it happened on January 31 of this year.) The two sides had signed an agreement that was found after very long and arduous negotiations: Cancellation agreement, which laid down the general rules for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union and the feared scenario of the so-called “No problem“The exit without an agreement, viewed by many observers as a catastrophe.

– Also read: What’s in the Brexit Deal?

After years of internal disputes, divisions and defects, tensions within the UK Conservative Party rose again in early September when the Johnson-led government announced a reform of the internal market which, if approved, could violate some of its principles. in the Right of withdrawal. The problem arises from the fact that the Right of withdrawal It had been possible because Johnson had dropped a number of questions about the Irish-Northern Irish border.

From the start of the negotiations, the European Union had insisted not to build a border between the two countries, which was not repealed until 1997 with the Good Friday Peace Accords, which put an end to the violence that had marked the history of Northern Ireland, the so-called Problems. For the European Union, Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom) should have continued to align with European laws on customs and the movement of goods and services to avoid creating a rigid border. Theresa May’s administration at the time found this to be an unacceptable violation of the UK’s territorial integrity as it would have resulted in differences in treatment between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. The subsequent administration, led by Johnson, had instead accepted the European demands and described the compromise as “grandiose”.

A year later, however, Johnson appears to have changed his mind: With the bill announced in September, the British Prime Minister has the Cancellation agreement, say that they do not want to respect some of the clauses in the agreement.

The Cancellation agreement, For example, the UK must comply with European state aid laws in relation to state subsidies to Northern Irish companies to prevent them from competing unfairly with Irish companies. The law proposed by Johnson provides that the UK government can choose whether or not to inform the European Union of the existence of certain subsidies. The Right of withdrawal It also stipulates that Northern Irish companies will have to take some bureaucratic steps to ship their goods to the rest of UK territory. The new law argues that these steps are not necessary.

The European Union has made it clear that if the UK is against the Right of withdrawal There will be no basis for further discussion of a trade agreement (where the two sides are still very far apart on various issues, from state aid to fishing quotas in the British seas).

– Also read: France wants the European Parliament back

It is unclear whether Johnson is proposing these changes for tactical reasons, to achieve something more in the negotiations or out of conviction, and deliberately pushing the UK into a full exit from the European Union without a trade deal. The problem is that a permanent exit from the European Union without an agreement would be catastrophic for the British economy: British products would be subject to high tariffs overnight, which would significantly increase their final price and make them much less competitive. For example, a UK-made car could cost an average of € 3,000 more. Given that the UK exports a lot of its goods to EU countries – we’re talking 46 percent of total exports – the consequences for entire sectors of the UK economy would be potentially catastrophic.

At the moment, Johnson’s moves had two consequences: further distancing the British position from the Europeans and angering several influential members of the Conservative Party, especially those who, like May, would have signed a different Brexit deal than the current one. Right of withdrawal.

To avoid total disruption within the party, Johnson announced a change to its bill on Thursday. The change provides for the application of the most controversial part of the law, which gives the government the power to violate the provisions of the law Cancellation agreement, must be approved by parliament, which it could block. Iain Watson, political journalist from BBCwrote that Johnson’s proposal may have resolved the problem of tension in the party in the short term, but not in the long term: especially since the UK Parliament would still be called to a vote to accept a violation of international law, a scenario that will be followed in May and May others Conservatives find this unacceptable.

Indeed, Johnson has shown no willingness to step back in negotiations with the European Union or to reconsider the possibility of violating the EU Right of withdrawal. This line could not only push the UK towards a no-trade-deal Brexit, it could also significantly weaken the country’s seriousness and authority on the international stage, where compliance with agreements is one of the basic rules for coexistence between states.

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