Controversial legislation overriding parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol will be tabled early next week, Downing Street has confirmed.
The proposed amendment to the protocol, which governs Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trade deals, will inflame a row with the European Union.
It could also prove a key test of Boris Johnson’s authority after a deadly no-trust showdown earlier this week that saw 41% of his MPs vote against him.
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The Northern Ireland Protocol was designed to avoid the imposition of a hard border with the Republic of Ireland as a result of Brexit.
Under the arrangement, Northern Ireland remains subject to certain EU rules and checks are carried out on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, creating a border in the Sea of Ireland.
Opponents, including trade unionists and Brexit supporters, say it undermines Northern Ireland’s place in the UK and say it is causing hardship for businesses.
Power-sharing in Northern Ireland has been put on hold as trade unionist DUP refuses to join the executive until his protocol concerns are resolved.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss last month presented the plan to introduce legislation to override parts of the protocol, citing the need to respond to the “very grave and serious situation”.
She said the bill would preserve what was working while fixing what was not – on movement of goods, regulation of goods, VAT, subsidy control and governance.
Ms Truss said the bill would provide a “green channel” to free goods moving and staying in the UK from unnecessary red tape.
At the same time, the government said it would ensure that goods destined for the EU “subject to all checks and controls applied under EU law”, backed up by agreements of data sharing.
But Britain has been warned that unilateral withdrawal from the protocol could jeopardize the wider post-Brexit free trade deal between the UK and Europe, raising the prospect of a trade war.
Questions have also been raised about the legality of the move. Opponents claim that overriding the Protocol would violate international law.
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On Friday, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “The Bill has been approved by the relevant Ministerial Committees and will be presented to Parliament on Monday.
“We will publish alongside the bill a summary of the legal opinion.”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, speaking during a visit to Belfast, said his party would scrap the legislation.
Ministers fear there could be a significant rebellion featuring some of the 148 Tory MPs who voted against the Prime Minister earlier this week.
They also believe they may have to use the Act of Parliament to force legislation through if it is rejected by the House of Lords.
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