The UK’s big Brexit bust-up, explained

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing growing opposition among his Conservative backbenchers over the government's proposed Internal Market Bill | Chris J. Ratcliffe/Getty Images


The UK’s big Brexit bust-up, explained

Would the UK really break international law? Is the EU really ‘acting in bad faith’? And what happens next?


9/14/20, 8:10 PM CET

Updated 9/15/20, 4:42 AM CET

LONDON — After a long hiatus during the coronavirus crisis, Brexit drama is back for its latest season.

A row about U.K. plans to breach the Withdrawal Agreement and Northern Ireland Protocol has prompted accusations of bad faith from both sides and sent relations between the Brexit negotiating teams plummeting to an all-time low.

Meanwhile, British MPs are gearing up for a House of Commons showdown, with Downing Street grappling to contain rebellion among Conservative backbenchers.

That 2016-2019 sense of “WTF is going on?” is back with a vengeance. But POLITICO has you covered.

What’s this all about, then?

Downing Street wants to override elements of the Withdrawal Agreement that Boris Johnson signed with the EU in October 2019. The deal — a treaty of international law — compels firms moving goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain to submit export declarations. It also gives the EU oversight on state subsidies handed to businesses in Northern Ireland that could have a knock-on effect for linked firms in the rest of the U.K.

The U.K. government wants to cancel both provisions and give ministers the power to decide on the state aid issue,

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