Brexit: Lords could block PM's plan to override withdrawal deal

Brexit: Lords could block PM's plan to override withdrawal deal

The European Union told Britain on Thursday it should urgently scrap a plan to break their divorce treaty, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government refused and pressed ahead with a draft law that could sink four years of Brexit talks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson appealed to lawmakers in his Conservative Party on Friday (Sept 11) to back a trade Bill his government has admitted would break worldwide law, saying it was needed to protect Britain.

It added if necessary it would not be "shy" in making use of the "mechanisms and legal remedies" provided for in the WA treaty for addressing violations of obligations.

This plunged talks on a future trade relationship between the European Union and Britain into crisis less than four months before the United Kingdom is due to leave the EU's orbit at the end of a transition period.

The UK government says its Internal Market Bill is a "safety net" created to prevent disruption to internal UK trade in the event that there is no agreement by the end of the year.

"We have never in recent history - or, maybe in ancient history dealing with other countries - seen such a renegement on an agreement", said Ireland's Europe minister, Thomas Byrne.

However, as the sides set out to negotiate their future relationship on issues ranging from trade to security, talks have largely stalled.

Britain's decision to break global law by overwriting part of the EU Withdrawal Agreement has alarmed European leaders and threatens to scuttle the fragile negotiations on future UK-EU relations now being held in the British capital.

The Internal Market Bill gives ministers the power to waive clauses on state aid and the need for export declarations on British goods heading to Northern Ireland if there is no deal.

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Leaders of the bloc vowed to stand together as time runs short to find a smooth economic transition before Britain leaves the EU's economic structures on December 31.

Competition law expert Totis Kotsonis of Pinsent Masons said: "The government has acknowledged that this is a breach of the UK's obligations in worldwide law".

"We will not accept anything that could jeopardise or weaken the single European market", French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said.

German MEP David McAllister - who heads up the Parliament's UK-EU coordination group - made the warning as he called the Westminster legislation "a serious and unacceptable breach of global law".

In response, Gove said that during the meeting with Šefčovič he had "made it perfectly clear that we would not be withdrawing this legislation".

But the admission that new legislation will break worldwide law has caused alarm across the political spectrum, even in Britain.

Opposition has also been brewing in the House of Lords, with Lord Howard of Lympne, a prominent Brexiteer, becoming the third former Tory leader to reject Downing Street's plans for having the potential to do damage to Britain's global reputation.

During the meeting, Mr Šefčovič stated that the "timely and full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland - which Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government agreed to, and which the UK Houses of Parliament ratified, less than a year ago - is a legal obligation".

Even so, British in Europe say that if the United Kingdom does not intend to honour one part of the WA agreement, "it sends a message to the EU" that "it can not be trusted to implement the other parts", putting the deal further at risk.

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