James O'Brien's instant reaction to the Brexit bill passing vote

Andrew Cummings
September 15, 2020

Geoffrey Cox, who was the government's top legal officer when Johnson negotiated the agreement less than a year ago, said reneging on the deal would be an "unconscionable" breach of worldwide law. With Starmer in self-quarantine after possible exposure to the coronavirus, Labour's shadow business secretary Ed Miliband stood in for the party leader during Monday's vote, blasting Johnson for attempting to violate the withdrawal agreement he himself signed.

Ahead of the vote, Mr Johnson urged MPs to back the Bill saying it was a "safety net" that would "guarantee the economic and political integrity of the United Kingdom".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The proposition that we should march through the Lobby as lawmakers and say that we are going to ignore and disavow a law that we have passed, to do with the rule of law, that is completely unacceptable".

Sir Roger acknowledged he was in a "tiny minority" among Tory MPs but predicted others could rebel when the Commons comes to consider amendments to the Bill next week.

There will be more parliamentary skirmishes in London, which will embarrass Mr Johnson, but opponents concede that he has the numbers to push the measure through the lower House of Commons. "There is much to play for yet".

"We're committed to making a success of those negotiations".

The big challenge for the negotiating teams is to resolve issues that "make this legislation irrelevant" in a bid to secure a deal that is acceptable to all parties, Mr Coveney said speaking on his way into a Cabinet meeting. Should the Lords oppose the bill, they could delay it by one year.

He claimed the Northern Ireland Secretary had "answered the wrong question" when speaking to MPs (see video below), and "as a outcome the whole matter has been taken out of context".

"Either he wasn't straight with the country about the deal in the first place or he didn't understand it", Miliband said.

"Because a competent government would never have entered into a binding agreement with provisions it could not live with".

Labour's amendment to block the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill from receiving a second reading was defeated earlier by 349 votes to 213, majority 136.

"When it comes to preserving the integrity of the United Kingdom and clearly delivering for the people of Northern Ireland when it comes to the Good Friday Agreement, we've said from day one. that we would always stand by our word and not compromise when it comes to unfettered access in goods and services but also standing by the Good Friday Agreement", she said on BBC Breakfast.

Gove, arguably the second-most powerful and influential in Boris Johnson's Cabinet bar Johnson himself, was referring to the proposed Internal Market Bill, which would give British government ministers the power to disapply elements of the Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union if the bloc attempts to use it to ban the importation of food to the British province of Northern Ireland from Great Britain, or to extend European Union control over state aid rules in NI to mainland businesses.

"It is critical that we pass this Bill before the end of the year".

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