British Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove on Friday defended British government’s moves to press ahead with a new internal market bill that ministers acknowledge will break international law.
Gove outlined the measures Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government plan to take in a written statement to the House of Commons (lower house of parliament).
He said Britain had made clear during discussions with EU officials on the UK Internal Market Bill that the legislative timetable for the bill would continue as planned. Gove also reiterated the government’s commitment to implementing the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, including the protocol covering Northern Ireland.
His official statement follows a demand 24 hours earlier by the European Union for the British government to drop clauses in the new bill that override a Brexit treaty signed by London and Brussels.
Lawmakers in Britain’s House of Commons will have their first opportunity Monday to comment on the internal market bill, ahead of a full debate later next week as part of its legislative journey.
A number of Conservative MPs in the House of Commons have expressed dismay at the bill over the way it will break international law.
With Johnson commanding a majority in the chamber, he is expected to win. But the bill will face a stormier ride on the unelected House of Lords where a number of peers have already said they will mount a strong opposition against it.
The Times reported Friday that at least 30 Conservative MPs have threatened to rebel against the bill when it goes before parliament.
The Times said the rebel MPs have tabled an amendment that would bar the government from overriding the Withdrawal Agreement without parliament’s support.
Despite the dispute over the internal market bill, both the EU and Britain have agreed to meet next week in Brussels to continue discussions on a new trade pact which is expected to come into operation on Jan. 1, 2021 after a Brexit transition period comes to an end.
EU officials said the talks will go ahead even though they are expected to be challenging.
Brussels issued an ultimatum to the British government Thursday to back down on its controversial trade bill by the end of September, or face legal action and a possible collapse of ongoing trade talks.
Britain ended its EU membership on Jan. 31 but is still following EU rules during the transition period until Dec. 31. Unless a trade deal is agreed by the end of this year, Britain will have to trade with the EU under the World Trade Organization terms.