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Boris Johnson's crunch Brexit bill is PASSED despite Tory backlash

BORIS Johnson's crunch Brexit bill was passed tonight despite a Tory backlash.

The PM comfortably saw off the Tory rebellion, winning the crucial Commons vote by 340 to 263 votes. 

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It came after the PM warned Brussels has a “revolver on the table” in trade talks as he faced a Commons bloody nose.

Labour’s amendment to block the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill from receiving a second reading was defeated by 349 votes to 213, a majority of 136.

The Prime Minister had earlier been hit by a significant backlash from senior Tories — including ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid — over ripping up last year’s EU dirvorce Bill if Brussels tried to exploit Northern Ireland.

Former PM David Cameron also broke cover to declare he had “misgivings” about the UK breaking a signed treaty.

Mr Johnson won the first major Commons battle over his plan to breach international law in a “limited and specific way” —thanks to his 78 majority.

PM SCORES VICTORY

Whips had been braced for more than a dozen of his MPs threatening to abstain.

Earlier, the PM gave a heated defence of his “safety net” law that overwrites parts of his Brussels deal that could see the EU use Northern Ireland as a backdoor for control over the UK after Brexit.

Ahead of the vote on the Internal Markets Bill Mr Johnson again accused EU negotiators of going to “extreme and unreasonable lengths” over Northern Ireland.

And he blasted “absurd and self-defeating” threats to use an “extreme interpretation” of the divorce deal.

'ABSURD AND SELF-DEFEATING'

Mr Johnson said: “Our interlocutors on the other side are holding out the possibility of blockading food and agriculture transports within our own country.”

And he told MPs “the EU still have not taken this revolver off the table. I still hope that they will do so.”

“We cannot have a situation where the very boundaries of our country could be dictated by a foreign power or international organisation.

“No British Prime Minister, no Government, no Parliament could ever accept such an imposition.”

We cannot have a situation where the very boundaries of our country could be dictated by a foreign power or international organisation

But Sajid Javid — who walked out of Mr Johnson’s Government in February — said he could support any move that breaks international law.

He was joined by a slew of party grandees including two former Attorney Generals Sir Jermey Wright and Geoffery Cox as well as other party grandees Andrew Mitchell and Sir Bob Neill.

And responding for Labour after Sir Keir Starmer was forced to isolate, Ed Miliband raged: “Is our country going to abide by the rule of law?”

“A rules based international order for which we are famous around the world and have always stood up.

“These are not small questions, but go to the heart of who we are as a country and to the character of this government.”

And he added: “And let’s just get this straight for a minute, because I think it is important to take a step back; what the Prime Minister is coming to the House to tell us today is that his flagship achievement, the deal he told us was a triumph, the deal he said was oven ready, the deal which he fought and won the general election is now contradictory and ambiguous.

“What incompetence. What failure of governance. And how dare he try and blame everyone else.”

But other senior Tories leapt to Mr Johnson’s defence.

And Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster has accused the EU of treating Northern Ireland as its plaything.

She claimed the region has become a “bargaining chip” in trade talks between the bloc and the UK Government.

Earlier, former Chancellor Mr Javid became the latest leading Tory to announce he is "unable to support" the Internal Market Bill, which MPs are votin on at 10pm.

Mr Javid tweeted: "It is not clear to me why it is necessary for the UK to break international law.

"I am regretfully unable to support the UK Internal Market Bill unamended."

And during tonight's debate. Tory MP Charles Walker warned Boris: "I'm not going to be voting for this bill.

"Because if you keep whacking a dog don't be surprised when it bites you back."

This morning, fellow Conservative MP Rehman Chishti resigned as the PM's special envoy for Freedom of Religion or Belief in opposition to the bill.

Mr Chishti, a former barrister, said he had "real concerns about the UK breaking its legal commitments under the Withdrawal Agreement".

He added: "I feel strongly we must keep the commitments we make; if we give our word, then we must honour it."

Mr Johnson's former attorney general Mr Cox has slammed the PM for threatening to damage Britain's "standing and reputation" on the world stage if he pushes through a law overruling key clauses of the original Brexit deal.

Writing in The Times, Mr Cox said: "No British minister should solemnly undertake to observe treaty obligations with his fingers crossed behind his back. 

Absurd and self-defeating as that action would be even as we debate this matter, the EU still have not taken this revolver off the table.

Mr Cox, who oversaw the inking of the original Brexit deal, demanded Mr Johnson "accept all the ordinary and foreseeable consequences" of that agreement, and said he would not vote for the bill.

The controversial law, which will be voted on in the House of Commons today, overrides parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which prevented a hard border.

No10 has insisted the legislation is only intended as a safety net in case the transition period with the EU ends on December 31 without a deal.

Mr Cox said: "It is unconscionable that this country, justly famous for its regard for the rule of law around the world, should act in such a way."

More than a dozen Tory MPs had been waiting Mr Cox's opinion before deciding how to vote on the bill, according to The Times

The ex-attorney general and Brexit supporter also slammed badly-behaved EU bosses for using the Northern Ireland protocol as a "lever" for negotiations.

But, he warned: "What ministers should not do, however provoked or frustrated they may feel, is to take or use powers permanently and unilaterally to rewrite portions of an agreement into which this country freely entered just a few months ago."

David Cameron this morning joined four other ex-PMs to express "grave concern" over the new Brexit bill.

He told Sky News: "Passing an act of parliament and then going on to breaking an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing, you should contemplate.

"It should be an absolute final resort. I do have misgivings about whats being proposed.

But the ex-PM's condemnation of the bill was much more tempered than Tony Blair and Sir John Major who called the law "shameful".

Mr Cameron said: "What I should say is the Government has proposed a law which it might pass or it might not pass, it might use or might not use depending on whether a certain set of circumstances do or do not appear.

"Of course the bigger picture here is we are in a vital negotiation with the European Union to get a deal and I think we have to keep that big prize in mind."

The draft law has brought on an almighty stand-off between the PM and EU bosses, who have demanded he withdraw it before they consider negotiating a deal.

But Michael Gove last week insisted the Government would not succumb to pressure from the EU.

Mr Johnson has given negotiators until October 15 to come up with an agreement and said the UK will "prosper mightily" with or without a trade deal.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse attempted to mount a defence of the bill this morning, saying it was necessary to prevent “a situation where GB cannot supply food into Northern Ireland”.

He told BBC Radio 4: “I would ask for a solution to that conundrum. If we get to a situation where we are not recognised as a third country and it therefore becomes illegal to move food to Northern Ireland, what is the UK prime minister supposed to do?”

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