340 deputies voted in favor. There were 263 against it, Reuters reported. Approval was generally expected because the Conservatives have a seat of 80 seats in the House of Commons. Rejecting the proposal at this stage would therefore be quite surprising, although some conservatives criticize the law.
In a parliamentary debate, Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the Internal Market Act as a way to prevent the EU from using the Northern Ireland issue as a “stick” against Britain. “It’s protection, it’s a safety net, it’s insurance, and it’s a very sensible measure,” Johnson said at the beginning of the debate. According to him, Brussels hinders efforts to reach an agreement on future trade relations with Britain. The law is said to protect the integrity of the United Kingdom.
The Johnson government wants to break down one of the pillars of the Brexit agreement, the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. It provides that that part of the United Kingdom will continue to be subject to the rules of the single market in the Union, even after a transitional period for the United Kingdom to leave the EU, in order to prevent border controls with the Republic of Ireland. The exact parameters of the customs regime in Northern Ireland and the scope of controls on goods coming from the rest of the United Kingdom are to be determined by a special joint commission.
However, negotiations between the representatives of London and the EU are stagnating in this direction, and the British government now wants to prepare the ground so that it can take matters into its own hands. The internal market bill presents negotiations on a new partnership with the EU as insurance in the event of a failure, but such a development would not change the validity of the Northern Ireland Protocol. British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis told lawmakers last week that the proposal “violates international law in a very specific and limited way”.
Major, Cameron and May spoke out against the breach
Disagreements with the government’s actions have already been expressed by several representatives of the Conservative Party, including former Prime Ministers John Major, David Cameron and Theresa May. On Monday, a number of critics were expanded by an influential MP and former Attorney General Cox, who warned in a commentary in The Times about the “outrageous” damage to London’s international reputation.
“We, the British Government and Parliament, have given the floor. Our honor, our credibility, our self-esteem and our future influence in the world all rely on keeping our word, ”he wrote in reference to the recent approval of the separation agreement. Commentators subsequently recalled that Cox’s review of an earlier version of the Brexit Convention was a deadly blow to Maya’s efforts to push the document through parliament. His new Twitter intervention was supported by Conservative MPs George Freeman and Gary Streeter.
The European Union has called on the British government to reconsider its plans for the internal market, but Johnson’s cabinet indicates that it does not intend to change course. However, MEPs and their amendments, which are likely to be voted on next week, can intervene. Parliamentary mathematics is still relatively unclear, but there are speculations about several dozen rebels from the Conservative Party.
The tug-of-war over the new government initiative continues to increase tensions over ongoing talks on Britain’s post-interest partnership with the EU. The transitional period for its negotiation will expire at the end of the year, with both parties announcing that the agreement needs to be completed next month.