Brexit: Boris 'never properly read' WAB claims barrister
Ministers came under fire for providing powers to override the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU through controversial clauses aimed to protect the trading relationship between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. However, it would break international law and sparked a furious response from Brussels who threatened legal action.
The British Government has now confirmed plans to withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 from the Bill in order to clinch a trade deal after a meeting between European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic and Michael Gove.
The move has sparked backlash from Brexiteers who see the withdrawal of the clauses as selling out the UK’s interests.
Claire Fox, former MEP and director of the Academy of Ideas, accused Boris Johnson of “selling out to the EU.”
She added: “The reason the government accrued so much hostility for introducing those clauses was precisely that they knew they were absolutely necessary to protect sovereignty in face of EU’s power to interfere in UK affairs/laws/trade.
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“Dispensing with them, I can assure, is a sell out.”
Ben Habib, a former Brexit Party MEP and businessman, added on Twitter: “I am dumb founded. What the heck is wrong with our govt?”
The withdrawal agreement came into force in February after the UK left the EU but the protocol is set to be enacted on January 1 2021, at the end of the transition period.
Earlier today the UK and EU reached an agreement “in principle” on the implementation of the divorce deal and the Northern Ireland protocol.
Mr Gove and Mr Sefcovic said in a joint statement “Following intensive and constructive work over the past weeks by the EU and the UK, the two co-chairs can now announce their agreement in principle on all issues, in particular with regard to the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.”
Following the decision, Diane Dodds, Stormont’s economy minister, called for further details on measures preventing EU goods from illicitly entering Great Britain via Northern Ireland.
The MLA made clear it was vital to ensure the region did not become a “back door” for the bloc’s products.
She added: “It is important that the quality and provenance of Northern Irish goods is preserved.”
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She also urged those involved in negotiations to “outline anti-avoidance measures used against EU businesses attempting to avoid tariffs by bringing goods into Northern Ireland”.
Ms Dodds said: “We want to preserve our place within the UK internal market.
“It is the most important market for Northern Ireland.”
The discussions are separate from the post-Brexit trade deal talks which remain deadlocked.
Mr Johnson, who is travelling to Brussels tomorrow, said talks with the bloc were proving “very tricky” and that it was “very, very difficult” to make progress, but he was hopeful about reaching a deal.
Leaders of the EU’s 27 member states are due to gather in Brussels on Thursday for a two-day summit, potentially giving political impetus for a deal.
Mr Barnier reportedly told MEPs the deadline for the talks succeeding is Wednesday.
However, Downing Street said it was prepared to continue talks for “as long as we have time available” – keeping the door open for an agreement to be reached at or after Thursday’s EU Council gathering.
But a spokesperson insisted this afternoon that trade deal talks will not continue next year.
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