UK plan to break law over Brexit deal prompts exasperation at home and abroad

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted in the U.K. Parliament that Boris Johnson's government is prepared to break international law | Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

UK plan to break law over Brexit deal prompts exasperation at home and abroad

Downing Street’s willingness to break international law triggers backlash in the UK and US as Brussels is on high alert.


9/9/20, 12:22 PM CET

Updated 9/9/20, 1:32 PM CET

Politicians across the U.K. and EU reacted with dismay to Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis acknowledging that the British government’s new Brexit plans would break international law in a “very specific and limited way.”

The controversial Internal Market Bill, set to be published later on Wednesday, would amend parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement — struck with the EU last year — relating to Northern Ireland and state aid.

“We need to be prepared,” Franck Riester, France’s junior trade minister, told a radio broadcast on Wednesday morning, adding: “We need to make sure that our British partners respect their commitments.”

In Brussels, European Parliament President David Sassoli warned the U.K. not to go back on its word or else suffer the consequences. “On the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement, trust and credibility are key,” he said in a video statement released overnight.

“We fully expect the U.K. to honor the commitments that it negotiated and signed up to last year, especially with regard to citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland … Any attempts by the U.K. to undermine the agreement would have serious consequences,” he added.

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