Bill to override parts of Brexit deal clears first hurdle

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The UK and the European Union remain in negotiations about a future trade deal with both sides saying that such a deal must be agreed on by October in order to be passed into law before December 31 when European Union trade regulations with the UK will end.

The legislation also sparked angry debate in London, reminiscent of the years of bitter political battles that followed the 2016 shock referendum vote to leave the EU.

Sajid Javid, Conservative MP and the previous Chancellor of the Exchequer (finance minister, in other words), had also come out against the bill, saying in a tweet that he could not see why it would be necessary to break worldwide law in the instance of the Internal Market Bill.

The legislation has come under fire from all five living former prime ministers, including Mr Johnson's immediate predecessors Theresa May and David Cameron, as well as Brexit-backing Tory grandees like former leader Michael Howard and ex-chancellor Norman Lamont.

The Internal Market Bill, created to govern trade within the UK's four nations, gives United Kingdom ministers powers to modify or "disapply" rules relating to the movement of goods that will come into force from 1 January, when the United Kingdom leaves the EU's single market, if a successor trade agreement is not reached.

Mr Johnson, though, said it was essential to counter "absurd" threats from Brussels including that London put up trade barriers with Northern Ireland and impose a food blockade - steps he said threatened the United Kingdom's unity.

As a result some custom checks would have to be implemented on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

"We cannot have a situation where the very boundaries of our country could be dictated by a foreign power or worldwide organisation", he said.

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Boris Johnson's plan to override key elements of the Brexit deal he signed with Brussels has cleared its first Commons hurdle, despite anger over it from many Tories.

Johnson temporarily halted the deadlock by sealing a divorce deal with Brussels late past year, which he used to win a thumping 80-seat victory in a December general election.

The Northern Ireland Protocol, created to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland, was negotiated and agreed by Johnson last autumn. This is his deal, it's his mess, it's his failure.

But opposition Labour spokesman Ed Miliband ridiculed this suggestion, saying: "Either he wasn't straight with the country about the deal in the first place or he didn't understand it".

One of Johnson's special envoys, MP Rehman Chishti, earlier quit over the bill - and more trouble could be ahead.

MPs will begin detailed line-by-line scrutiny of the Bill on Tuesday, with votes expected next week on amendments to the Northern Ireland provisions which some Tories may back.

One from senior Conservative MP Bob Neill has attracted some support, and would give parliament, not ministers, the power to decide whether to overrule the Brexit treaty.

Even some Brexit-backing Tories are unhappy, with one, Charles Walker, saying: "I'm no fan of the European Union. but surely we have to exhaust all other options before we press the nuclear button".

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