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

Craig Mackinley

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.

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.

A Conservative MP has resigned from the government over Boris Johnson's plan to break global law over Northern Ireland.

The EU says Johnson's bill would collapse trade talks and propel the United Kingdom towards a messy Brexit while former British leaders have warned that breaking the law is a step too far that undermines the country's image.

The main battleground in the next four days of debate is likely to be an attempt by Bob Neill, a Conservative lawmaker, to amend the bill to give parliament, not ministers, the power to decide whether to overrule the Brexit treaty.

Former Labour leader Ed Miliband went off on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson over his controversial Brexit bill, bashing him for "incompetence" and "failure of governance".

Later in the parliamentary debate, Miliband said of the bill: "What the Prime Minister is coming to this House to tell us today is that his flagship achievement, the deal he told us was a triumph, the deal he said was "oven-ready", the deal on which he fought and won the general election is now contradictory and ambiguous".

Several of Johnson's own Conservative MPs expressed alarm about breaking global law, with ex-finance minister Sajid Javid and former attorney general Geoffrey Cox among those saying beforehand that they would not back the bill as it stood.


During a five-hour debate ahead of the vote on Monday evening, Johnson claimed the EU's current approach could lead to excessive checks and even tariffs on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Protocol, created to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland, was negotiated and agreed by Johnson last autumn.

"Passing an Act of Parliament and then going on to break an global treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate".

The Commons also voted against a Labour amendment to reject the bill entirely by 349 to 213.

"We welcome the fact that this vital Bill has passed its second reading", a spokesman for the Government said.

The bill is created to enable goods and services to flow freely across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland when the United Kingdom leaves the EU's single market and customs union on January 1 at the end of the current transition period.

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

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