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What happens next with UK plan to breach Brexit divorce treaty?

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What happens next with UK plan to breach Brexit divorce treaty?

By William James



FILE PHOTO: European Union and British flags flutter in front of a chancellery ahead of a visit of British Prime Minister Theresa May in Berlin, Germany, April 9, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo


LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pressing ahead with legislation on trade despite a warning from Brussels that it could wreck their future relationship and an acknowledgement by his government that it violates international law.


The Internal Market Bill is aimed at ensuring Britain's four nations can trade freely with one another after leaving the European Union, but the government says that requires creating powers to override part of the withdrawal treaty it signed with Brussels.




The government says the powers are a safety net to protect peace in Northern Ireland if negotiations with the EU on how to manage cross-border trade fail.


The EU wants to make sure the open border with Ireland doesn't act as a back door into the bloc for goods. Britain wants to make sure goods flow freely between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.




The bill must pass through both houses of the British parliament to become law -- first the House of Commons, where Johnson's Conservative Party has an 80-seat majority, and then the House of Lords, the upper chamber, where it does not have a majority.


The bill passed its first stage in the Commons by 340 votes to 263, and looks set to clear further stages next week after Johnson moved to avert a rebellion by offering concessions.


The bill is scheduled to finish its journey through the lower house on Sept. 29.


After this it will undergo scrutiny in the House of Lords. The bill is not being fast-tracked by Lords and will take most of October and November to consider.


This means it will not be law either before the EU's end of September deadline to withdraw the bill, or Johnson's Oct. 15 deadline for a deal with the EU. The negotiations around either of these deadlines, if successful, could remove the need for the bill's most contentious parts.




Many members of the upper house have criticised the bill, including Conservatives, but their primary role is to amend and improve legislation, not to block it on principle.


While there is precedent for the Lords blocking legislation, deciding to do so on this bill would provoke a constitutional row, and such a move is currently seen as unlikely.


The House of Lords is more likely to seek to amend the bill to remove or dilute certain parts, or insert additional checks and balances. The amendments would go back to the House of Commons for approval -- probably in early December.


If Johnson's lower-house majority holds firm, the bill could bounce back and forth between the two chambers until either a compromise is found or the government attempts to pass it without House of Lords approval.




Johnson has so far made two concessions.


Firstly he promised parliament a vote on any decision to use the treaty-breaking powers created by the bill -- a compromise that snuffed out a rebellion within his own party.


Secondly, he has also committed to referring any dispute with the EU to the resolution mechanism set out in the Withdrawal Agreement "in parallel" to using the treaty-busting powers unilaterally.



-- © Copyright Reuters 2020-09-18
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If we were fully self sufficient with no need for international trade or multilateral agreements then you may be right, but the world no longer works like that. Your hero's victory will prove to be py

The UK continues to maintain its own laws and regulations within its own borders is pretty much what it boils down to. Sorry EU but suck it up, your plans were thwarted by the one the Remainers call a

The precise sequence of what happens next is not as much a certainty as the UK eventually finding itself in an international dispute in which the UK wishes to hold another nation to treaty obligations

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18 hours ago, snoop1130 said:

The EU wants to make sure the open border with Ireland doesn't act as a back door into the bloc for goods. Britain wants to make sure goods flow freely between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

The EU has a right. The UK has a different right.


The two rights are incompatible. So they will just go round in circles.

Edited by mfd101
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15 hours ago, Boomer6969 said:

You will probably need a visa the next time you want to go to Europe. But who wants to do that anyway?

Of interest to any that do...


A public information campaign launches to help British travellers prepare for changes when visiting Europe from 1 January 2021, when the UK’s transition period ends.

New information campaign to help Brits prepare for EU travel changes

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