Boris Johnson's lawbreaking Brexit bill passes first Parliament hurdle

The City of London has been granted an 18-month extension for clearing euro derivatives by the European Union. — Reuters pic

The City of London has been granted an 18-month extension for clearing euro derivatives by the European Union. — Reuters pic

British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, leaves 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Ministers Questions at the Houses of Parliament on September 9, 2020 in London, England.

Johnson on Monday opened a debate in the House of Commons at the start of the bill's legislative journey where it faces a rough ride over the coming days, Xinhua news agency reported.

As the bill returns to the Commons on Monday, James commented: "I don't really know how I feel, nine months later, to see the people that told us it was oven-ready and brilliant describing it as being so terrible that we are going to have to break worldwide law to get out of it".

But EU leaders have dismissed this as "spin" and warned Johnson to uphold commitments he himself made in the Brexit treaty a year ago - demanding he withdraw the offending parts of the new bill by the end of September. "From a man who said he wanted to get Brexit done and won an election on it, this gets Brexit undone by overturning key aspects of the Protocol that were agreed".

Lawmakers on both sides of the House of Commons said the government's admission that the proposed legislation would breach global law will weaken Britain's place in the world and hobble its attempts to call other countries - including Russia, China and Zimbabwe - to account.

Johnson put forward the bill in Monday's debate with the claim that the EU was trying to force the United Kingdom to accept certain regulations and that the European bloc had threatened to use "an extreme interpretation" of the withdrawal agreement in order to do so.

"The EU hasn't taken that particular revolver off the table", Johnson told MPs.

Neville Kyrke-Smith, national director of Aid to the Church in Need (UK), said: "We really appreciate what Rehman has done to push FoRB, making it a higher priority and developing it as a vital issue within Government".

But some European Union diplomats believe London is playing a game of chicken, inviting the collapse of trade talks to either get the deal it wants or leave without a deal.

Speaking on a webinar, he said he was concerned "too many people were hoping that the transition period would carry on forever".

"It's a protection, it's a safety net, it's an insurance policy and it's a very sensible measure", he said.

But ministers also said they would listen to concerns, insisting that the powers being sought would only be used if other legal avenues had been exhausted and only if MPs explicitly voted to activate them.

"Struck by the needlessly antagonistic & utterly false rhetoric tonight in Westminster as the Internal Market Bill was debated".

The bill was passed by a government majority of 77 on Monday evening, with 340 MPs for to 263 against.

Keir Starmer, leader of the main opposition Labour Party, won't take part in Monday's debate after a member of his household developed possible symptoms of Covid-19.

A Kent MP has resigned as special envoy on freedom of religion or belief in protest at the Prime Minster's plans to override the Brexit deal.

His previous finance minister, Sajid Javid, said he could not support the bill unless it was amended. "I feel strongly about keeping the commitments we make; if we give our word, then we must honour it".

"I do have misgivings about what is being proposed", Cameron told reporters.

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