Boris Johnson plans to breach his Brexit deal with EU
British MPs passed the government’s controversial bill designed to override parts of the Brexit divorce deal at its first hurdle in the House of Commons by a majority of 77 on Monday evening.
The bill in question proposes that the British government be able to override the agreement in regards to trade between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.
Johnson put forward the bill in Monday’s debate with the claim that the EU was trying to force the UK to accept certain regulations and that the European block had threatened to use “an extreme interpretation” of the withdrawal agreement in order to do so.
Johnson won the second reading parliamentary vote on the Internal Market Bill by 340 votes to 263, but some 30 of his MPs abstained and two voted against the bill. The result was boosted by the support of eight MPs from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
Lawmakers will now spend four days scrutinising the text amid a growing rebellion over the bill within Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party.
“The EU still have not taken this revolver off the table,” Johnson told parliament before the vote. “What we cannot do now is tolerate a situation where our EU counterparts seriously believe that they have the power to break up our country.”
EU leaders have dismissed Johnson’s argument as “spin”, saying he should uphold commitments he himself made in the Brexit treaty last year. The bloc is demanding that he withdraw the offending parts of the new bill by the end of September or risk no trade deal at the end of the year to cover everything from food to car parts.
Some EU diplomats believe Johnson is playing a game of chicken, inviting the collapse of trade talks to either get the deal it wants or leave without a deal.
Northern Ireland will remain subject to some EU rules after Brexit to ensure a free-flowing border with the Republic of Ireland – a crucial part of the 1998 peace accords that ended decades of sectarian violence.
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