(London) Boris Johnson’s plan to go back, in violation of international law, on certain commitments made in the context of Brexit cleared a first obstacle on Monday in the British Parliament despite the sling of part of the conservative camp.
France Media Agency
After having stung the Europeans in the midst of trade negotiations, the bill, with controversial provisions concerning Northern Ireland, was approved by 263 votes for (40 against), at the end of a day when the House of Commons returned to the heated debates around Brexit , officially entered into force on 17 January.
This initial support comes as no surprise given the large majority Boris Johnson has. But the further parliamentary progress of this project promises to be more uncertain, notably with the consideration at the beginning of next week of an amendment that would impose a parliamentary lock before any change relating to the agreement to leave the European Union.
It will also require the agreement of the Lords, who make up the upper house of Parliament and say they fear a blow to the credibility of the United Kingdom on the international scene.
Coming in person to MPs to defend the text, Boris Johnson deemed it “essential to maintain the political and economic integrity of the United Kingdom”.
He accused the European Union of using the provisions intended to guarantee peace in Northern Ireland as a “lever” in the current negotiations and of threatening to create “a customs border in our own country”. His bill represents a “safety net”, an “insurance policy” which the country will not have to use if London and Brussels can come to an agreement.
“No British Prime Minister, no government, no Parliament could accept” such conditions, he argued, responding in particular to the criticisms formulated by five of his predecessors, from John Major to Theresa May.
The sling has continued to mount in recent days within the Tory majority, the rebels being joined on Monday by former finance minister Sajid Javid, who resigned from the Johnson government in February.
Contravening by the government’s own admission of international law, the British internal market bill contradicts parts of the withdrawal agreement from the EU that Boris Johnson signed less than a year ago. year before campaigning by touting the success of a “fantastic” text.
The Treaty provides for specific customs provisions for Northern Ireland, intended in particular to avoid the reestablishment of a physical border between the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU, and the British province, in accordance with peace agreement of 1998 which ended three bloody decades.
The British bill “undermines” the latter, as well as the institutions it has created, according to the nationalist party Sinn Fein, favorable to the reunification of Ireland.
Northern Ireland must remain subject to certain European provisions for four years, in particular concerning trade in goods. But for London, the EU is threatening to refuse to put the UK on the list of countries allowed to export food products to this territory which is part of it, which would prevent imports into Northern Ireland from the rest of the country. .
“It’s his agreement”, “his bazaar”, “his failure”, declared for the Labor opposition the deputy Ed Miliband, throwing a Boris Johnson who “for the first time in his life” must ” take his responsibilities “.
The Europeans have given London until the end to withdraw the controversial provisions, risking legal action.
Despite these strong tensions, negotiations with the EU on their future trade relationship are due to resume Tuesday in Brussels. Previous discussions have not resulted in any major breakthroughs, especially with respect to London’s compliance with rules that avoid creating unfair competition at the gates of the EU and the conditions for European fishermen’s access to UK waters.
The two parties affirmed that an agreement should be concluded in October to avoid a “no deal” which would result in customs duties between the United Kingdom and the European bloc and would risk worsening the economic crisis history caused by the novel coronavirus.