Tories blame EU as they vote to back controversial market bill - The Evesham Observer

Tories blame EU as they vote to back controversial market bill

Rob George 19th Sep, 2020   0

VALE Tory MPs have hit out at the EU after they voted for controversial proposals which which could see the Government break international law and tear up parts of its own Brexit deal.

Evesham’s MP Nigel Huddleston and Pershore MP Harriett Baldwin were among 328 Conservative MPs to back Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial proposals by a majority of 77 votes on Monday (September 14) evening.

The bill is currently being fast-tracked through the House of Commons to be in place before October 15, the date which Mr Johnson has said a trade deal for Britain’s future with the European Union should be agreed.

The Internal Market Bill would give UK ministers powers to waive customs paperwork on trade between Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain, define which goods entering NI are liable for tariffs in event of no deal and ignore EU state aid rules.

If it undid sections of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the Government would break international law as the document is part of the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement it only signed with the European Union in January and on which Conservative MPs such as Mr Walker and Mrs Baldwin stood for Parliament at December’s General Election.

Critics have lambasted the Prime Minister for wanting to alter a document he negotiated and presented as ‘oven-ready’ in December and for its potential to see the United Kingdom ignore international law. However, Conservative rebels appaear to have won concessions from the Prime Minister after Number 10 revealed on Wednesday (September 16) any use of the powers would be subject to a vote in Parliament.

Speaking to the Observer, Mrs Baldwin said she backed the bill to give the Government a ‘strong negotiating position’ to secure a deal.

“In my opinion, the EU is currently behaving unreasonably, in particular, concerning the ongoing negotiations on food standards. In the highly unlikely event that we would ever wish to lower our food standards, we would be required to notify the World Trade Organisation and all our trading partners long in advance,” she said.

“In any negotiation, you need to be able to walk away when the other side is making unreasonable demands. I have decided that supporting Second Reading of the Internal Markets Bill makes a deal by October 15 more likely.”

Mr Huddleston said: “Although we remain optimistic we will leave with an agreement in place, we have to also prepare for the end of the transition period, which is fast approaching.

“In the event that no agreement is reached, the Government has proposed a safety net to protect the Union and ensure that the UK’s obligations under the Belfast Agreement are met. We must protect our sovereignty and our right to trade freely with Northern Ireland.

“We entered negotiations on the grounds of ‘good faith’ and with the understanding both sides would enter into productive talks with an aim to ensure that Northern Ireland remains part of the UK customs territory. However, it seems that in recent months the EU is using the Northern Ireland protocol to exert leverage in our negotiations for a free trade agreement.

“For instance, the EU has suggested blocking the transport of food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. I don’t think many of my constituents would tolerate Worcestershire farmers not being able to sell produce to fellow UK citizens in Northern Ireland because of restrictions imposed by the EU when we are no longer members of the EU. The Government’s proposals set out to make it clear this cannot be allowed to happen.”


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