Boris Johnson claims the government’s proposed Internal Market Bill will prevent the European Union (EU) from being ‘abusive’ towards the UK.
The Prime Minister said the bill, which will breach international law, would ‘ring-fence’ the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement and stop the EU from ‘making abusive or extreme interpretations of the provisions’.
Appearing before the Commons Liaison Committee, Johnson was also asked if he thought the EU were negotiating in ‘good faith’, to which he replied: ‘I don’t believe they are.’
His words contradicted Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, who told MPs on Wednesday that he believed the EU was acting in good faith. When asked about Lewis’ comments, Johnson said it was ‘always possible that I am mistaken and perhaps they will prove my suspicions wrong’.
Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement states that both the EU and the UK have to act in good faith, meaning they need to operate honestly and fairly, and without destroying the rights of the other party for their own benefit.
Johnson’s comments come just as he agreed to amend the Internal Market Bill following anger from MPs within his own party. The amendment prevents ministers from activating powers to override the Withdrawal Agreement without MPs taking a vote first.
But the compromise has not changed the stance of the European Commission, who have continually asked that the UK government withdraw the legislation relating to the Brexit deal by the end of the month.
Eric Mamer, chief spokesman for the European Commission, said: ‘We have as you know set out a position extremely clearly, it is in our statement, and it relates to those clauses being withdrawn from the law.
‘That position has not changed and we have asked the UK to do this at the earliest possible convenience, and by the end of September at the latest. That has not changed.’
Mr Mamer also insisted the EU was continuing to carry out negotiations in good faith.
He went on: ‘I think that Michel Barnier showed, in the context of the negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement, that even on extremely complex and politically sensitive issues the Commission and indeed the EU negotiate in perfectly good faith.’
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