24th Sep, 2020

Walker backs PM's controversial Brexit bill

Rob George 15th Sep, 2020

WORCESTER’S MP Robin Walker was among the 328 Conservative MPs to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial proposals which could see the Government break international law and tear up parts of its own Brexit deal.

The House of Commons comfortably passed the latest stage of the Internal Markets Bill by 340 votes to 263 – a majority of 77 – in a vote last night (Monday).

Number 10 is believed to want to fast-track the legislation though Parliament by the end of the month. If approved it would give the Prime Minister the opportunity to override parts of his own Withdrawal Agreement and while the bill passed the parliamentary hurdle it is expected to be heavily criticised in the House of Lords.

The Internal Market Bill would give UK ministers powers to waive customs paperwork on trade between Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain, define which goods entering NI are liable for tariffs in event of no deal and ignore EU state aid rules.

If it undid sections of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the Government would break international law as the document is part of the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement it only signed with the European Union in January.

All Conservative MPs, including Mr Walker, fought their seats at December’s General Election showing their support for the Prime Minister’s so-called ‘oven ready’ Brexit deal which was rubber-stamped when the party won an 80 seat majority.

Ministers said the bill contains vital safeguards to protect Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, if negotiations on a future trade deal break down.

“It will protect the territorial integrity of the UK and the peace in Northern Ireland, safeguarding trade and jobs across all four corners of the UK following the end of the transition period,” a Number 10 spokesman said.

However the claims faced condemnation in the House of Commons with a number of critics, including former Chancellor and Bromsgrove MP Sajid Javid, who said they could not support the final bill unless it is amended.

He was among more than a dozen Conservative MPs to abstain in the vote with Tory MPs on both sides of the Brexit divide warning of a further revolt should the plans remain unaltered.

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