British Prime Minister Johnson has called on the House of Commons to support the bill, which deviates from the brexit agreement he concluded with the EU in January. According to Johnson, the bill, which was presented today, ensures the unity of the United Kingdom’s internal market.
The main issue is the status of Northern Ireland. Johnson does not want the movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom to be burdened with additional controls or other restrictions. This runs counter to the agreement with the EU, which states that border traffic between Northern Ireland and Ireland should be unimpeded. According to the EU, this means that checks must be carried out at the border between Northern Ireland and the other parts of the United Kingdom.
At the time, Johnson was very enthusiastic about the deal with the EU and called it “oven-proof”. Now, a spokesman for the Prime Minister says that the divorce agreement at the time was written in great haste and under great pressure, and therefore contains ambiguities that need to be “clarified”.
Yesterday in the House of Commons, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, admitted that the new British Brexit Act violates international law, albeit “in a very specific and limited way” according to him. This led to shocked reactions and fierce criticism. The Scottish National Party today even stated that the Prime Minister and his friends think they are above the law and creating a rogue state.
Johnson was unimpressed, saying the law will protect jobs, secure prosperity and enable the unity of the British internal market. “Of course, everyone in Britain must obey the law,” he added, without further comment on the allegations.
Building on the British word
Today the Conservative former Prime Minister John Major joined the choir of critics. “For generations, friend and foe could rely on the solemn British word,” he said. “Our signature under every treaty was sacred. If we lose the reputation of keeping our promises, we lose something invaluable we may never get back.”
The European response so far has been cautious and moderate. The most outspoken was European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who said she was very concerned. “This would violate international law and undermine confidence. The basis of prosperous relations is pacta sunt serva”, Latin for ‘treaties must be observed’.