Boris Johnson said the UK must reserve the right to cancel the Brexit deal to protect the country’s “economic and political integrity”.
The prime minister said legislation is needed to resolve the “tensions”
He said he would ensure that the UK could not be “dismembered” by a foreign power and that the EU acted in “extreme ways”, threatening food exports.
Labor said the Prime Minister caused the “mess” by reneging on an agreement it had previously called a “triumph”.
The Domestic Markets Bill is expected to pass its first parliamentary test later, when MPs vote on it at 10pm BST, despite the reservations of many MPs that it gives the UK the power to break international law.
A number of Conservative MPs have said they will not support the bill as it stands and some may register their concerns by abstaining.
On January 31, the UK left the EU, after negotiating and signing the withdrawal agreement with the bloc.
A key part of the agreement – which is now an international treaty – was the Northern Ireland Protocol, designed to prevent the return of a difficult border to the island of Ireland.
The government’s proposed Internal Market Bill would cancel that part of that deal when it came to goods and allow the UK to change or reinterpret the “state aid” rules on business subsidies in Northern Ireland, in case the two parties who do not agree on a future business agreement.
Speaking at the start of the five-hour debate, the Prime Minister said the bill should be “welcomed” by all those who care about “the sovereignty and integrity of the United Kingdom”.
He said the UK signed the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Northern Ireland Protocol, in “good faith” in the belief that it would result in “light” regulations on trade within the UK.
He said the “protective powers” in the bill were needed to defend against the EU’s “proven willingness” to interpret aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement in “absurd” ways that were never intended.
“What we cannot tolerate now is a situation where our European counterparts seriously believe they have the power to dismantle our country,” he told MPs.
“We cannot have a situation in which the borders of our country can be dictated by a foreign power or an international organization”.
He also suggested that the EU threatened not to allow Britain to export animal products to the continent or Northern Ireland and “had not taken that revolver off the table”.
He tried to reassure MPs that the UK would continue to work with the EU to resolve their differences with “common sense and goodwill” and that MPs would be given a vote before reserve powers ever exist. invoked.
“I have absolutely no desire to use these measures. They are an insurance policy.”
But former Labor leader Ed Miliband, replacing Sir Keir Starmer after the Labor leader was forced to isolate himself at home, said “the mere act of passing the law” would be a violation of international law.
He told lawmakers that the prime minister “can’t blame anyone else” having drafted and signed the Brexit deal himself.
“It’s his business, it’s his mess, it’s his failure,” he said. “For the first time in his life, it’s time to take responsibility and get busy,” he said. “Either he wasn’t being honest with the country in the first place or he didn’t understand it.”
He added: “This is not just legislative hooliganism on any issue, it is on the most sensitive issue of all.”
Conservative MP Sir Bob Neill said the government must “exhaust” all avenues available through the existing agreement to resolve its differences before taking such a profound step.
The government’s actions, he said, have been “unnecessarily provocative” to ongoing trade negotiations and “needlessly undermine our reputation for adhering to the rule of law.”
And former chancellor Sajid Javid joined the ranks of potential rebels, saying he did not see why it was necessary to “renounce in advance” the withdrawal agreement signed with the EU.
“Violation of international law is never a step to be taken lightly”, he tweeted.
A high-level government source told the BBC “all options are on the table” in terms of possible action against Conservative MPs who do not support the bill.
The legislation, which sets out how trade between the different nations of the UK works after the UK leaves the single market on January 1, is likely to encounter more difficulties in its later stages, especially in the House of Lords.
Ian Blackford of the SNP said the bill is the “biggest threat” to decentralized government in Scotland since the establishment of the Scottish Parliament 20 years ago.
“We are discussing the details of a bill that this government admits with aplomb and brazenness breaks international and domestic law, a bill that cynically uses the precious peace at the heart of the Good Friday agreement as nothing more than a commodity. exchange on Brexit, “he said. .
Five former prime ministers have expressed concern over the bill, including Boris Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May, who was absent from Monday’s debate as she is visiting South Korea.
Speaking earlier on Monday, David Cameron said that “passing an act of Parliament and then breaking an international treaty obligation … should be the absolute final resort.”
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