Europe

Brexit war: Boris Johnson urged to fix EU’s ‘unpalatable’ Withdrawal Agreement issues

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Geoffrey Cox, former attorney general to the Prime Minister, criticised some of the EU’s terms in the withdrawal agreement as “unpalatable.” However, he said recent bids to re-write parts of the Brexit deal because of this were “unconscionable.”

The potential changes to the withdrawal agreement are part of the government’s proposed Internal Market Bill, which MPs are due to formally discuss this week.

The purpose of the bill is to decide which countries of the UK get certain powers that used to be held by the EU when Britain ends its transition period at the end of this year.

However, the bill could also allow the UK to override parts of the withdrawal agreement the Prime Minister had already agreed with the EU in January.

As such, the Prime Minister has faced pressure from both the EU and Tory MPs because of concern about what it could mean for what is left of the trade negotiations, as well as international trust.

Now, Tory MP Mr Cox has said the Prime Minister would have known parts of the withdrawal deal were not ideal when he signed it.

He told The Times: “There can be no doubt that these were the known, unpalatable but inescapable, implications of the agreement.

“It is unconscionable that this country, justly famous of its regard for the rule of law around the world, should act in such a way.”

READ: Brexit bill row: Michel Barnier tells Boris Johnson to ‘stick to facts’

It is thought the new Internal Market Bill has been introduced because of fears the EU could interrupt trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK after the transition period under the terms of the withdrawal agreement.

However, Mr Johnson’s former top legal ally urged ministers to vote against the new bill and instead use other, existing ways of addressing concerns about post-Brexit issues.

Among other things, the bill proposes no new checks on good moving from Northern Ireland to the rest of the union.

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It would also allow the UK to override previously-agreed rules about how much help the government can give to British businesses – a key hurdle in the current trade negotiations.

The bill would also give ministers powers to “disapply” some rules relating to how goods are moved around after Brexit, the BBC reports.

Brandon Lewis, Northern Ireland Secretary, has said the bill would actually “break international law” if it were enacted to rewrite the withdrawal agreement.

Theresa May, former Prime Minister, said this could damage “trust” in the UK.

The bill is due to receive its second reading in parliament today.

Meanwhile, the ninth round of Brexit trade deal talks are due to commence later this month.

The UK’s negotiator David Frost has said the UK “will not blink” during the negotiations.

Many experts now say the likelihood of a no-deal outcome is increasing.

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