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UK to drop plan to breach international law

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LONDON — The U.K. government will drop proposed laws that the EU had warned would undermine last year’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and poisoned the atmosphere around trade talks, ministers announced Tuesday.

In simultaneous statements posted on Twitter, U.K. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove and his European Commission counterpart Maroš Šefčovič said “agreement in principle” had been reached on all issues being worked on by the Joint Committee, which oversees the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

In a further joint statement, the two sides said the “mutually agreed solutions” meant the U.K. could withdraw controversial clauses from its Internal Market Bill, as well as “similar provisions” planned for the upcoming Taxation Bill.

Ministers had previously admitted the clauses, affecting the rules of trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. after Brexit, would break international law by undercutting what was agreed with the EU as part of the Northern Ireland protocol element of last year’s Brexit divorce deal. The U.K.’s proposals drew widespread criticism, including from Joe Biden.

The successful conclusion of the joint committee discussions, while separate from the wider Brexit negotiation on a future relationship and trade agreement, will be seen as a positive step in Brussels, where the proposed U.K. laws were viewed as a breach of good faith when they were announced earlier this year.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney welcomed the resolution.

“I very much welcome the positive news announced today that agreement in principle has been reached on the outstanding issues on the implementation of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland,” he said. “I hope this may also provide some of the positive momentum necessary to instil confidence and trust and allow progress in the wider context of the future relationship negoti

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