BORIS Johnson has defended his controversial new Brexit bill as he faces a huge MP rebellion during tonight’s vote.
He led tonight's debate over the controversial bill by urging MPs to support the Internal Market Bill and "preserve" free trade between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
His plea came hours after David Cameron became the THIRD Conservative former PM to condemn Boris Johnson's plan to redraft the Brexit divorce bill, saying he had 'misgivings' about the bid.
Mr Johnson faces rebellion over plans to change the Brexit treaty, which former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has also slammed.
Mr Cox said: “Breaking of the law leads ultimately to very long-term and permanent damage to this country's reputation and it is also a question of honour.”
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‘THE EU HAS NEVER HAD A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD’
An MP has claimed that the EU has never played fair.
He referenced the bloc’s alleged failure to comply with World Trade Organisation rules.
It follows fierce debate on the new Internal Markets Bill tonight, ahead of a vote on the controversial new measures.
MPs are thrashing it out in the Commons tonight over the new additions, which the Government admitted do break international law.
TIME LIMIT INTRODUCED
A time limit of four minutes has been introduced as several backbenchers speak on the amendments to the Brexit bill.
Deputy Speaker Eleanor Laing said the limit is in place to ensure everyone can have a say in such an important debate.
‘NO DEAL IS NOT A GAME’
Ed Milliband has been outspoken throughout the debate so far.
He blasted Cummings’ actions during lockdown, insisting that the new bill will create an environment where there is one rule for the British public and another for the government.
He told the PM that the UK is known worldwide for upholding and creating the rule of law, and that breaking international law will seriously undermine this reputaion.
He added: “No deal is not some game”.
DAVID CAMERON TELLS PM 'KEEP BIG PRIZE IN MIND'
David Cameron this morning joined four other ex-PMs to express “grave concern” over the new Brexit bill.
He told Sky News: “Passing an act of parliament and then going on to breaking an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing, you should contemplate.
“It should be an absolute final resort. I do have misgivings about whats being proposed.”
But the ex-PM's condemnation of the bill was much more tempered than Tony Blair and Sir John Major who called the law “shameful”.
Mr Cameron added: “What I should say is the Government has proposed a law which it might pass or it might not pass, it might use or might not use depending on whether a certain set of circumstances do or do not appear.
“Of course the bigger picture here is we are in a vital negotiation with the European Union to get a deal and I think we have to keep that big prize in mind.”
BREXIT 'NEGOTIATING TACTIC' HAS BACKFIRED
The Government's Brexit “negotiating tactic” has backfired, says Ireland's deputy premier.
Leo Varadkar called for the British Government to change its mind on its plan to break international law by breaching parts of the Withdrawal Agreement.
It could rewrite parts of the agreement relating to the provisions around all-Ireland trade.
Speaking in Co Kildare, Mr Varadkar said: “The most important thing for Irish farmers and exporters is that we secure a free trade agreement so there are no tariffs and no quotas on the trade of goods between Britain and Ireland.
“I think what they (UK Government) have done – if it was a negotiating tactic – has now backfired.
“Countries all around the world, the US and other countries, are wondering if this is the kind of place we can do any deal with or any treaty with.”
BLOCKADE OF FOOD CONFIRMED
The EU has confirmed it could bring in a blockade of food goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain under the current terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, says Downing Street.
Asked why it had taken “several days” for the possible blockade to be listed as a reason for changes to the Brexit deal, the PM's spokesman told reporters: “While the negotiations were ongoing, we sought to avoid discussing the content of those – but the fact of this particular matter was put into the public domain by the EU in a statement on Thursday evening.”
He added: “You already have a series of comments on social media from Lord Frost… which clearly urge the EU to think better of this because it obviously doesn't make it easier to negotiate a good free trade agreement and a solid future relationship which we all want.”
BORIS JOHNSON ‘ALL OVER THE PLACE’ – KEIR STARMER
Boris Johnson “is all over the place” and should just “get on with” finalising the Brexit deal, says Labour leader Keir Starmer.
But, he told LBC today, the Labour Party “will not go along with breaking international law”.
“My message to Boris Johnson is get on with it and actually focus on what most people are talking about this morning, which is how on earth do we defeat and deal with this pandemic – that’s what’s on people’s minds.
“They thought this was over, he’s reopening it, I think the nation would say to Boris Johnson get on with this, stop this, you’re wrong,” he added.
However, after being interviewed, Sir Keir had to go into coronavirus self-isolation after a member of his household developed symptoms.
He will continue working from home, but will not take part in Commons proceedings today.
PM HEADS OFF TO PARLIAMENT FOR CRUCIAL DEBATE
Prime Minister Boris Johnson was pictured (below) reacting while being driven to the Houses of Parliament in central London this afternoon.
He was snapped before opening a debate into the Government's proposed Internal Market Bill.
Mr Johnson is set to face down critics to argue in favour of a new law that his government openly admits will break its EU divorce treaty, as wrangling over Brexit returns to parliament.
Furious officials in Brussels have demanded the proposed legislation is withdrawn before the end of the month, and Mr Johnson is facing threats of rebellion and resignations.
TIMINGS FOR BREXIT DEAL VOTE
The Commons debate on the PM's controversial new Brexit bill is expected to start around 4.15 – 4.30pm today, says Sky News.
The vote is expected to be at 10pm “at the latest”, it adds.
PM THANKS REHMAN CHISHTI AFTER RESIGNATION
Boris Johnson has thanked Tory MP Rehman Chishti, who quit as the PM's special envoy on freedom of religion and belief in protest over changes to the Brexit deal.
But Mr Johnson has defended his draft legislation.
Mr Chishti quit earlier today, announcing on Twitter: “I can’t support [the] Internal Market Bill in its current form, which unilaterally break UK’s legal commitments.”
Mr Johnson's Downing Street spokesman said: “The PM thanks him for his service and wishes him well for the future.
“But… we have clearly set out the reasons for the measures related to the Northern Ireland Protocol and the Prime Minister believes it is critical that this legislation is passed.”
Veteran Tory MP Gary Streeter has confirmed he will not be voting in support of the Internal Market Bill tonight.
His opposition comes as a host of senior MPs, including former attorney general Geoffrey Cox, vowed to rebel on the terms of the Bill as they stand.
The South West Devon MP tweeted: “Just to let constituents know that I will not be supporting the Government over the Internal Market Bill.
“I will explain my reasons in my Facebook article later this week.
“Those constituents who have emailed me will get a response today.”
'NORTHERN IRELAND IS NOT THE PLAY THING OF THE EUROPEAN UNION'
Northern Ireland's First Minister has warned the EU to stop using the region as a “play thing”.
Arlene Foster was responding to a question in the Assembly on claims made by UK negotiator Lord Frost that the EU had raised the prospect of certain products being blocked from entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
“The EU needs to stop using Northern Ireland to get their own way,” said the DUP leader.
“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.”
DEHENNA DAVISON SUPPORTS BORIS JOHNSON OVER BREXIT BILL
Tory MP Dehenna Davison has slammed former attorney general Geoffrey Cox's intervention over the PM's controversial new Brexit bill.
Mr Cox said Britain's “standing and reputation” on the world stage was under threat if the law, which will be voted on in the House of Commons today, goes through.
But Ms Davison tweeted: “And what of our word to our constituents? We gave people our word that we would deliver Brexit.
“We gave people our word that we would not allow there to be a wall down the Irish Sea.
“We gave people our word that we would protect the integrity of the UK. This matters.”
PM TO OPEN BREXIT BILL DEBATE
Boris Johnson will open today's debate on the Internal Market Bill in the House of Commons, Downing Street has confirmed.
The PM's spokesman said: “The Bill will protect seamless trade and jobs in all four corners of the UK following the end of the transition period.
“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.
“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 is therefore critical that we pass this legislation before the end of the year.”
'KEEP STATUS QUO ON BREXIT'
The Withdrawal Agreement is “the underpinning, and it's the framework for our relationship with the UK – no ifs, no buts,” says a spokesman for the European Commission at a press briefing in Brussels.
“Questions relating to the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement are meant to be discussed and resolved in the Joint Committee.
“We have played a straight bat on this.
“We have set this out extremely clearly, and the rest, frankly, is internal debate in the United Kingdom.
“We are not going to get involved in the comments and remarks that are made by different players.”
Boris Johnson's ex-attorney general Geoffrey Cox has blasted the PM's controversial new Brexit bill as “unconscionable”.
Mr Cox slammed the PM for threatening to damage Britain's “standing and reputation” on the world stage if he pushes through a law overruling key clauses of the original Brexit deal.
The controversial law, which will be voted on in the House of Commons today, overrides parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which prevented a hard border.
Mr Cox, who oversaw the inking of the original Brexit deal, demanded Mr Johnson “accept all the ordinary and foreseeable consequences” of that agreement, and said he would not vote for the bill.
He wrote in The Times: “It is unconscionable that this country, justly famous for its regard for the rule of law around the world, should act in such a way.”
See our full story HERE.
TRADE WAR LOOMING?
Stubborn EU chiefs have been warned they will be the biggest losers if they trigger a trade war with Britain.
Boris Johnson is ready to slap tit-for-tat tariffs on their most prized exports — with champagne top of his hit list.
French wine, including fizz, German cars, Italian shoes, luxury clothing and even Irish beef could all be clobbered by hefty tariffs.
A senior Whitehall source said: “A trade war is a major concern. We hope it doesn’t come to this but are considering all options in the event the EU should start one.”
Senior officials insist they will not be bullied in knife-edge talks involving EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.
Read our full story HERE.
BILL EXPECTED TO GO THROUGH DESPITE OPPOSITION
With an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons, Boris Johnson is expected to have enough votes to push his legislation through Parliament.
The PM is trying to dampen down growing opposition to his plan to rewrite Britain's Brexit deal with the European Union, after his former attorney general warned the Internal Market Bill would permanently damage the UK's reputation.
Geoffrey Cox said today that reneging on the deal would be an “unconscionable” breach of international law.
But Mr Johnson says the EU has threatened to use the terms of the divorce deal to block food shipments from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland unless Britain agrees to accept EU regulations.
The PM says he still wants a deal, but he is willing to leave without one if the EU makes unreasonable demands.
KEIR STARMER SELF-ISOLATING AT HOME
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer won’t be able to comment during today’s debate over the Internal Market Bill – as he’s self isolating.
He took the action after a member of his family showed Covid-19 symptoms.
Sky News says that the Speaker’s rules prohibit anyone on the front bench – including the government and the Labour party – from speaking via Zoom.
So he “won’t be able to log in virtually either”, the broadcaster adds.
Instead, there will “somebody else in his place this afternoon”.
INTERNAL MARKET BILL 'ACT OF HOOLIGANISM' – MILIBAND
Labour shadow business secretary Ed Miliband claimed the Government's plan to use domestic law to override the Withdrawal Agreement with Brussels was an act of “legislative hooliganism”.
The former Labour leader advised: “We should take a step back – this is not normal.
“It is honestly a sad day and that's why I think you hear people across the political spectrum condemning the Government.”
He also told Radio 4: “Of the most sensitive issues around Northern Ireland, at the most sensitive stage of the Brexit negotiations – I mean it's sort of legislative hooliganism that the Government is engaged in and it will be self-defeating, I fear.”
REHMAN CHISTI'S RESIGNATION LETTER TO BORIS JOHNSON
Here's the resignation letter sent to Boris Johnson from the PM’s Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Rehman Chisti:
BREAKING: PM'S SPECIAL ENVOY RESIGNS OVER BILL
Tory MP Rehman Chishti has quit as Boris Johnson's special envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief over the Internal Market Bill.
He tweeted: “I can’t support [the] Internal Market Bill in its current form, which unilaterally break UK’s legal commitments.
“As an MP for 10yrs & former Barrister, values of respecting rule of law & honouring one’s word are dear to me.”
PM 'WILL BE CAREFUL OVER BILL'
Former attorney general Geoffrey Cox has spoken to Boris Johnson about his objections to the Internal Market Bill.
He told Times Radio: “I have spoken to the Prime Minister. We've had long discussions and I know the PM is giving very careful thought to these things.
“And I know the Government feels that it really has no choice… if the actions of the EU are borne out.
“If the statements they appear to have made are fulfilled, it would place an enormously difficult problem in the way of the UK and Northern Ireland.
“It would amount to a demonstration of a want of good faith for which the Government should take action.
“It's just the action it should take, in my view, shouldn't be unlawful.”
'WRONG FOR GOVERNMENT TO RENEGE ON DEAL'
People are confused about how the government will use powers set out in the Internal Market Bill, says former attorney general Geoffrey Cox.
Speaking to Times Radio, the Tory MP said: “It is not clear the circumstances in which the powers taken by the Bill would be used.
“If the powers are to be used simply to nullify the… consequences of an agreement we signed, that to me is simply to go back on an agreement that both the government signed solemnly and Parliament itself ratified in February.
“I think it is wrong that the government or our Parliament should renege on an agreement on which we gave our solemn word.”
Conservative MP Simon Hoare, who is also chairman of the Northern Ireland select committee, tweeted that Mr Cox's “intervention cannot be overlooked, ignored or swatted away”.
BUTT OUT BARNIER
Chief Brexit negotiator David Frost has blasted the EU over threats to block food deliveries to Northern Ireland.
He pleaded with opposite number Michel Barnier to “think better of this”.
Mr Barnier tweeted: “The EU is not refusing to list the UK as a third country for food imports.”
“Third countries” are nations not in the EU or European Free Trade Association, but that do have recognition of food standards by the EU.
But Mr Frost pointed out that the UK, having been in the EU for 40 years, adheres to all relevant food standards, so there was no reason not to be listed as a third country.
He added: “The EU lists dozens of countries globally on precisely this basis, without any sort of commitment about the future.
Read our full story HERE.
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