Theresa May attacks Boris Johnson’s ‘illegal’ plan to scrap parts of Brexit deal – and makes pointed remark about his future as PM | Politics News



Theresa May has delivered a scathing rebuke to Boris Johnson’s plan to override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol ahead of a vote in the House of Commons.

The former prime minister told her fellow MEPs that she could not support controversial legislation – which she says would be illegal, fail to achieve its aims and diminish Britain’s position in the world.

In an excoriating dismantling of the plans, she even drew on her own experience as a beleaguered prime minister to suggest European leaders might now doubt her successor. Mr Johnsonthe future of Downing Street.

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His criticism added to concerns expressed by fellow Tory Andrew Mitchell, a former international development secretary, who said the plan threatened to ruin Britain’s global reputation and spark a trade war.

The protocol that governs North Irelandis post-Brexit commercial arrangements, was intended to prevent the return of a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

But it means some goods exported from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland are subject to customs checks, creating problems for some businesses and upsetting trade unionists – leading to a political stalemate as the DUP refuses to return to power sharing.

The UK government says it wants to renegotiate the deal, but accuses Brussels of intransigence and says it has no choice but to introduce legislation.

It contains measures to remove controls on goods and animal and plant products exported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Read more: What is the Northern Ireland Protocol and why is it important?

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What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

“Is it worth negotiating with these people?

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told MPs preparing to vote on the legislation on Monday that the political situation could not get out of hand and the plan was “both legal and necessary”.

But Ms May raised a range of objections, including to the claim that the UK was legally able to override the protocol due to ‘necessity’.

It was a mistake, the former prime minister said, because other legal options such as continuing negotiations and invoking Article 16 – the temporary unilateral suspension of parts of the protocol – remain available.

She added that the main aims of the legislation – to bring the DUP back into government and encourage Brussels to negotiate – were also dubious.

Ms May said there was no commitment from the DUP to return to the executive following the bill

She added that when she, as Prime Minister, had faced a deadly vote of confidence just like Mr JohnsonEU negotiators began to ask themselves, “Well, is it really worth negotiating with these people in government, because will they actually be there at some point?”

She added: “Also, in fact, I suspect they’re thinking why should they negotiate in detail with a government that shows itself willing to sign a deal, pretend it’s a win, and then try to tear up a gone in less than three years.”

Read more: What is power sharing and why is it used in Northern Ireland?

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Who Opposes the NI Protocol Bill?

Truss and May clash over ‘patriot’ status

Ms Truss said she supported the measures because she was a ‘patriot’, but Ms May said: ‘As a patriot I wouldn’t want to do anything that would diminish this country in the eyes of the world.

“I have to say to the government that this bill is, in my view, not legal under international law, will not achieve its aims and will diminish the position of the UK in the eyes of the world, and I can’t support it.”

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Earlier, Mr Mitchell said he had “tremendous sympathy” for the government, with the EU “not being particularly constructive”.

But he added: “Many of us are extremely concerned that the bill brazenly breaches a solemn international treaty, it undermines our international reputation, it threatens a trade war at a time when our economy is flat, and it puts us at odds with our most important allies.”

The last point was a reference to US concern over the government’s decision.

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EU: “politically motivated” protocol bill

The Prime Minister defends the government’s plan

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said the legislation could be enacted “very quickly” if supported by parliament.

He told reporters at the G7 summit in Germany: “You have a tradition, a community, that feels like things really don’t work the way they like or understand, you have unnecessary trade barriers. between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“All we’re saying is you can get rid of it without endangering the EU single market in any way.”

Brussels has taken legal action against the UK in retaliation for proposed legislationwhich would effectively abandon key parts of the deal Mr Johnson and the EU signed in 2019.

European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic has indicated that further action could follow if the UK moves the bill forward.


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