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Prime Minister Boris Johnson is looking to override the withdrawal agreement in a move that could lead to a no deal Brexit. The Internal Market Bill, published on Wednesday, addresses the Northern Ireland Protocol – an element of the withdrawal agreement designed to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland. The bill seeks to give powers to UK ministers so they can modify or “disapply” rules relating to the movement of goods – Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted this week that this could break international law.
It comes after months of stalled talks, as the EU and the UK fail to compromise on other issues such as fisheries, trade and regulatory alignment.
The Prime Minister has told the bloc that an agreement must be reached by October 15 or the UK will walk away from negotiations.
The move has sent shockwaves across Europe, shown by European media’s reaction this week.
An analysis piece in French newspaper Le Monde asked the key questions involving Brexit to their London correspondent Cecile Ducourtieux.
She said: “It is unreasonable to think that the UK government is ‘doing everything possible’ not to get a deal.”
She added that some in Mr Johnson’s entourage think the “no deal” would be a “good result” for the country (as the Prime Minister said on Monday).
Closing an agreement would allow these criticisms to be partly silenced. Above all, a “no deal” would give unstoppable arguments to the SNP, which is already at the top of the polls”, she added.
German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung highlighted this week that the UK’s Brexit manoeuvre “caused irritation and indignation”.
The article continued: “EU Parliament President David Sassoli warned Great Britain of ‘serious consequences’ if London tried to undermine the withdrawal agreement.
“The Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin also warned against a breach of contract – this would mean that all negotiations would be ‘null and void’.”
They added: “Johnson is increasing the already high tension in the Brexit dispute.
“Only on Monday did he give the EU an ultimatum: He demanded an agreement on future relations by October 15, the day of the next regular EU summit.
“If this does not succeed, there will be no free trade agreement with him.”
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Prime Minister Johnson also faces anger from within his own party.
Mr Johnson warned that, without his efforts to override the withdrawal agreement, Brussels could “carve up our country”.
Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, told Sky News the government’s strategy was causing “a lot of collateral damage” and risked diminishing the UK’s status as a “global role model”.
Former Prime Ministers, Tony Blair and John Major, also hit out at Mr Johnson.
They said: “We both opposed Brexit. We both accept it is now happening. But this way of negotiating, with reason cast aside in pursuit of ideology and cavalier bombast posing as serious diplomacy, is irresponsible, wrong in principle and dangerous in practice.”
Business Minister Nadhim Zahawi defended the Government on Sky News this week.
He said: “What we are saying is, this isn’t about if we implement them (terms of withdrawal agreement) it’s about how we implement them.”
He added that “the withdrawal agreement was signed at pace, and there were ambiguities”.
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