Politics

Brexit news – live: Boris Johnson's plan condemned by all former PMs as Tory MP quits government and Keir Starmer self-isolates


David Cameron has joined all other living former prime ministers in expressing grave concerns about Boris Johnson’s plan to override the Brexit deal and break international law. 

Speaking to reporters on Monday morning, Mr Cameron said: “Passing an act of parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate. It should be an absolute final resort, so I do have misgivings about what is being proposed.”

Mr Cameron’s comments came after Geoffrey Cox, Boris Johnson’s former attorney general, urged ministers to use the “clear and lawful” options under the Withdrawal Agreement to remedy their concerns that food imports from Britain to Northern Ireland would be blocked.

Mr Cox, who backed Leave in the referendum campaign, said it was “unconscionable” that the UK should seek to break international law by rewriting the withdrawal agreement with the European Union.

Opposition to the Bill has been building among Conservatives since Brandon Lewis told MPs that the government planned to break the law. On Monday, Rehman Chisti, MP for Gillingham and Rainham, resigned as a government special envoy on what he called “a matter of principle”.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer announced that he is isolating after a family member showed possible signs of Covid-19 infection.

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Former AG says he could not support bill

Conservative former attorney general Jeremy Wright has said he could not support the provisions in the Internal Market Bill relating to Northern Ireland.

“I along with many others are profoundly disturbed with what is going on here. It is about our authority on the world stage and that matters,” he told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.

“It is wrong for the British Government to set out a law in which it says overtly it intends to break its international law commitments. I think that has huge consequences, not just over the Brexit process but well beyond it.”

He said that if he had still been in government he would have had to resign, saying he could not accept “the overt breach of international law”.

Vincent Wood14 September 2020 17:45

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Ed Miliband steps in for Starmer as Johnson defends bill

Boris Johnson has defended his bill in the commons ahead of its second reading, saying the government had signed the withdrawal agreement “in the belief the EU would be reasonable” and that “any government, and any MP” must be obliged to uphold the territorial integrity of the country.

However tabling the oppositions’ amendment to the bill Ed Miliband (who is standing in for Keir Starmer as he isolates under coronavirus guidance) has accused the PM of not understanding his own bill, while urging him to maintain the nation’s precedent in maintaining international law.

“The prime minister has said many times he wants to bring unity to the country during his premiership. I therefore congratulate him in having, in just one short year, united his five predecessors. 

“Unfortunately their point of agreement is that he is trashing the reputation of this country and trashing the reputation of his office.”

Vincent Wood14 September 2020 17:07

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Sajid Javid joins Tory rebels refusing to back Boris Johnson’s bill

Former chancellor Sajid Javid has said he will not support Boris Johnson’s controversial UK Internal Market Bill, which would give ministers powers to break international law.

Mr Javid’s bombshell came as Mr Johnson stood up in the House of Commons to plead with MPs to back the UK Internal Market Bill, which he says is a “safety net” to prevent the EU blocking food exports from the British mainland to Northern Ireland.

Vincent Wood14 September 2020 16:52

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Another big name Tory backs out of supporting government bill

Sajid Javid, who served as the chancellor of the exchequer before Rishi Sunak took on the post, has said he will not support the Internal Markets Bill.

“It is not clear to me why it is necessary for the UK to break international law” he wrote on Twitter.

 “I am regretfully unable to support the UK Internal Market Bill unamended.”

Vincent Wood14 September 2020 16:23

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Scottish tory leader puts support behind government bill

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives has said he supports the government’s controversial Internal Markets Bill.

Douglas Ross wrote on Twitter that he would vote in favour of the bill that breaches international law, adding that it was “important for jobs and businesses across Scotland” .

Vincent Wood14 September 2020 16:13

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Japan agreement shows UK can do ‘British-shaped deals’, says Truss

Liz Truss has said the trade deal reached with Japan shows the UK can make “British-shaped deals” after Brexit.

Calling the deal “a stepping stone” to joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, Ms Truss told the House of Commons in a statement: “The deal strengthens our ties with the world’s third-largest economy and deepens the bond between two like-minded island nations.”

Responding to the statement, Emily Thornbery, the shadow international trade secretary, said: “[The deal] will increase trade with Japan by 50 per cent over 15 years, that is nothing compared to what we will lose in just four months if we do not get a deal with Europe.”

Ms Thornberry added: “In the absence of a treaty text, there is much about the UK-Japan agreement we still do not know.“

Liam James14 September 2020 16:02

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UK negotiating tactic has backfired, says Varadkar

Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s deputy leader, said the UK’s Brexit negotiating tactic has “backfired” as countries including the US are questioning future trade deals with Britain over the government’s controversial plan to break international law.

Mr Varadkar, who took part in crunch Brexit talks with Boris Johnson in Autumn 2019, said on Monday: “I think what they [UK government] have done – if it was a negotiating tactic – has now backfired.

“Countries all around the world, the United States and other countries, are wondering if this is the kind of place we can do any deal with or any treaty with.”

He added: “If the UK becomes a country that no longer obligates its treaties, that doesn’t respect international law, there is no country that is going to want to deal with them.

“I think they have made a mistake in this regard and I hope they will reconsider.”

Liam James14 September 2020 15:16

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DUP leader to EU: Northern Ireland is not your ‘play thing’

Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s first minister,  claimed the EU is using Northern Ireland as a “play thing” in response to a question regarding the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Bill.

When asked about claims made by UK negotiator Lord Frost that the EU had raised the prospect of certain goods being blocked from entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK,  the Democratic Unionist Party leader told the Stormont Assembly: “The EU needs to stop using Northern Ireland to get their own way.

“We are not the play thing of the European Union and it causes great difficulties here in Northern Ireland when people use Northern Ireland in that fashion.”

Liam James14 September 2020 14:38

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Lib Dem London mayoral candidate suspended after antisemitic video emerges

A Liberal Democrat candidate for the 2021 London mayoral election has been suspended by the party after footage emerged of her making antisemitic remarks.

A video from the 1997 general election campaign shows Geeta Sidhu Robb urging voters in Blackburn not to vote for her opponent Jack Straw on account of his being Jewish.

Ms Robb is seen shouting at voters through a megaphone: “Don’t vote for a Jew, Jack Straw is a Jew.”

Liam James14 September 2020 13:54

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Johnson to open Commons debate on Internal Market Bill

Boris Johnson will open the debate on the Internal Market Bill in the House of Commons this afternoon, Downing Street has confirmed.

A spokesperson for the prime minister said Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, will close the debate.

“The Bill will protect seamless trade and jobs in all four corners of the United Kingdom following the end of the transition period,” the spokesperson said.

“It will guarantee UK companies can trade unhindered in every part of the UK while maintaining world-leading standards for consumers and workers who rely on them.”

They added: “It will also provide a vital legal safety net, it removes any ambiguity should an agreement not be reached at the Joint Committee on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“It protects the integrity of the UK internal market, it ensures ministers can always deliver on their obligations to Northern Ireland and protects the gains from the peace process.

“It is therefore critical that we pass this legislation before the end of the year.”

Conrad Duncan14 September 2020 13:14



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