Brexit impasse could break with Boris Johnson resignation
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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to bring forward plans for a new law, on the post-Brexit trade deal for Northern Ireland, this Monday. MPs were first informed about the legislation, last month, when Foreign Secretary Liz Truss introduced it in the House of Commons. The bill has infuriated diplomats in the European Union (EU), who believe it will be a breach of international law.
Mr Johnson and his Cabinet signed off the new law, last Wednesday, just 48 hours after the PM had faced a vote of confidence.
Mr Johnson won the vote with 211 votes against 148, giving him a majority of 63.
He urged MPs to “draw a line” under questions about his leadership, and prioritise tackling issues, such as the Brexit saga in Belfast.
So, what exactly can we expect from Mr Johnson’s new Brexit law?
Ms Truss has insisted that the deal will not scrap the protocol altogether, and will instead make limited changes.
One of its key alterations will be the creation of so-called “green lanes”, for goods going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
Products intended for the EU, meanwhile, would be placed in a “red lane”, and undergo full checks and customs controls, as part of the bloc’s single market.
Under a new dual-regulatory system, businesses in Northern Ireland would be able to choose between meeting British or EU standards.
Doing so would allow firms to decide whether to trade freely with the EU or the rest of the UK.
The Government would rewrite all tax and spend policies in Northern Ireland, as part of a separate change.
For example, this could mean that British wide cuts to VAT are applied to the country.
There will also be no role for the European Court of Justice in international dispute arbitration, and safeguards for the EU single market, including fines for businesses that fail to stick to the rules.
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However, the Government has been criticised by the EU for looking to make changes to the protocol.
The bloc’s chief negotiator on Brexit, Maros Sefcovic, has said the EU would “need to respond with all measures at its disposal” if the UK went ahead with the legislation.
Irish Premier Michael Martin also cautioned against changes being made to the special Brexit deal.
In a speech to the European Parliament, last Wednesday, he said any decision by Britain to act unilaterally over the protocol would be “deeply damaging” and mark a “historic low point”.
Ms Truss said it remained the UK Government’s preference for a negotiated solution with the EU.
But she’s made clear that if an agreement cannot be struck the UK would take steps to “cement provisions” that are working in the protocol, while “fixing those elements that aren’t”.
The Foreign Secretary has also said the new Brexit bill was compliant under international law.
But diplomats in Brussels have disputed this and said it will breach the deal that was originally agreed in October 2019.
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