A government minister has confirmed that Boris Johnson’s administration wants to introduce new legislation that “does break international law” – though said it would do so “in a very specific and limited way”.
On the new bill being proposed to amend the Brexit divorce deal with the EU, Brandon Lewis told the House of Commons: “Yes, this does break international law in a very specific and limited way.”
The Northern Ireland Secretary added: “We’re taking the power to disapply the EU law concept of direct effect required by Article 4 in a certain, very tightly defined circumstance.”
Referring to the Finance Act 2013, Lewis told MPs: “There are clear precedents for the UK and indeed other countries needing to consider their international obligations as circumstances change.”
Boris Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May warned that the government proposal could damage “trust” in the UK at a time when it is seeking trade deals with other states.
Shadow Attorney General Lord Charlie Falconer said the government had “an obligation to comply with the law, domestic and international”, adding: “Throughout the Brexit process, the government purported to act within the law. This is new. And very bad.”
Labour’s Louise Haigh tweeted: “Absolutely astonishing that the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has confirmed the government WILL be in breach of international law by undermining the Northern Ireland Protocol. This seriously undermines our authority on the international stage.”
She later added: “It should never have come to this. With trust progress could have been made. The government must rethink this reckless approach, discover their responsibility, and secure the deal that was promised to the people of this country.”
“Yes, this [new legislation] does break international law in a very specific and limited way,” says Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) September 8, 2020