340 MPs vote to break international law

25th Sep 2020
340 MPs vote to break international law

(Photo credit: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament)

Hamed Chapman

An unprecedented 340 MPs, including 328 from the ruling Conservative Party, seven from the DUP and one independent Julian Lewis, voted for the Government’s controversial Internal Market Bill, despite ministers admitting that it breaches international law.

Only two Tories, Sir Roger Gale and Andrew Percy, together with 195 Labour, 47 SNP, 11 Liberal Democrat and three Plaid Cymru, voted against, whilst another 30 Conservatives including several former ministers chose to abstain from the proposed legislation that paves the way for the Government to unilaterally unravel sections of the Brexit withdrawal agreement that was only passed in January this year to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union.

The Bill faced a backlash of criticism from both sides of the channel, including from five former British Prime Ministers and all three former Tory attorney generals since 2010, Dominic Grieve, Jeremy Wright and Geoffrey Cox. Rehman Chisti resigned in protest ahead of the vote from his post as Boris Johnson’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

Deputising for self-isolating Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Business Secretary, Ed Miliband, was widely reported to have ‘torn shreds’ off Johnson for coming to Parliament and telling MPs about his “flagship achievement, the deal he told us was a triumph, the deal he said, as I said, was oven-ready, the deal which he fought and won the general election is now contradictory and ambiguous.”

“What incompetence. What failure of governance. And how dare he try and blame everyone else. Can I say to the Prime Minister, this time he can’t blame [Theresa May], he can’t blame (former premier) John Major, he can’t blame the judges, he can’t blame the civil servants, he can’t sack the cabinet secretary again,” Miliband said.

He said Johnson thought he has a friend in President Trump, but Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has said there is no chance of the United States agreeing on a trade deal with the United Kingdom if this bill passes. It is a pivotal moment for the country, which must stand up for what matters the commitment to the rule of law.

“The UK must respect the Northern Ireland protocol as signed with the EU to ensure the free flow of goods across the border. “If the UK violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a US-UK trade agreement passing the Congress.”

In a rather mocking tone, the Prime Minister was even accused by the former Labour Leader of not even bothering to read the Bill. “What incompetence, what failure of governance, and how dare he try and blame everyone else? This is his deal; it’s his mess, and it’s his failure.”
The Government publicly admitted that the Bill is set to break international law. The Bill would unilaterally override key aspects of the United Kingdom’s Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union, specifically the Northern Ireland protocol.

Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis, told Parliament: “Yes, this does break international law in a very specific and limited way. We’re taking the powers of this to apply the EU law concept of direct effect… in a certain very tightly defined circumstance.”

“Certain provisions to have effect notwithstanding inconsistency or incompatibility with international or other domestic law,” the draft Bill said. As The Muslim News went to press, further showdowns were expected over the highly contentious legislation.

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