Britain's Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis | Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images
UK minister confirms plan to break international law over Brexit
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told the House of Commons the UK government’s plans would break the law in a “very specific and limited way.”
Updated 9/8/20, 4:33 PM CET
LONDON — U.K. government plans to backtrack on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement will break international law, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told the House of Commons Tuesday.
The Financial Times reported Monday that sections of the Internal Market Bill, due to be published Wednesday, will override sections of the divorce deal Prime Minister Boris Johnson struck with the EU last year.
Asked by fellow Tory MP Bob Neill to reassure the House that there were no plans to break international law, Lewis sparked bemusement on all sides when he said the plans will “break international law in a very specific and limited way.” Even Neill himself looked stunned.
The FT report prompted fierce criticism from Brussels, just as talks on the future relationship between the U.K. and EU restarted. Downing Street spent much of Monday insisting they did not intended to backtrack on an international agreement. “We are fully committed to implementing the Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol and we’ve already taken many practical steps to do so,” Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said Monday.
Earlier Tuesday, the head of the U.K. government’s legal department Jonathan Jones resigned.