The Speaker
Monday, 20 May 2024 – 21:54
Boris Johnson in the House of Commons
UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor (CC BY 3.0)

Boris Johnson reportedly planning to override parts of Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is reportedly planning new legislation to override part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

The Financial Times have reported that the UK Government is to publish a controversial section of the Internal Market Bill on Wednesday that is expected to “eliminate the legal force of parts of the withdrawal agreement”.

The Internal Market Bill is intended to secure the “seamless functioning” of trade between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland following the end of the transition period, but reports have claimed that the bill could effectively override parts of Withdrawal Agreement concerning the ‘Northern Ireland protocol’.

Some politicians have warned that such a move could see UK-EU negotiations collapse and leave the UK headed for a ‘no-deal’ scenario at the end of the year.

The Withdrawal Agreement was a deal between the UK and EU that paved the way for the UK’s departure from the bloc on January 31 this year. The UK is currently in a transition period until the end of the year, during which time it follows the rules set by the EU while discussions are ongoing over a future trade deal. Trade talks are set to continue this week, however, talks up to this point have seen multiple sticking points remain.

Responding to reports that the UK Government could attempt to override part of the Withdrawal Agreement, the Labour Party said:

“[The government are] threatening to renege on the UK’s legal obligations”, adding that their plans were “an act of immense bad faith: one that would be viewed dimly by future trading partners and allies around the world”.

The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said on Monday that he was “worried” because “the British would like the best of both worlds.”

Also on Monday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set a deadline for trade negotiations to be completed. EU officials had stated that they wanted negotiations concluded by the end of October, but Boris Johnson said on Monday that if they cannot conclude negotiations by the 15th then the UK will “move on”. In a statement, Mr Johnson said;

“We are now entering the final phase of our negotiations with the EU.

“The EU have been very clear about the timetable. I am too. There needs to be an agreement with our European friends by the time of the European Council on 15 October if it’s going to be in force by the end of the year. So there is no sense in thinking about timelines that go beyond that point. If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on.

“We will then have a trading arrangement with the EU like Australia’s. I want to be absolutely clear that, as we have said right from the start, that would be a good outcome for the UK. As a Government we are preparing, at our borders and at our ports, to be ready for it. We will have full control over our laws, our rules, and our fishing waters. We will have the freedom to do trade deals with every country in the world. And we will prosper mightily as a result.”

Many politicians and members of the public have disagreed over whether a no-deal would be good for the UK, with many businesses fearful of the trade tariffs and border checks that would likely be put in place if a deal cannot be agreed with the EU by the end of the year. 

The eighth round of UK-EU negotiations are due to commence in London on Tuesday.


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