‘No way’ EU will back a UK trade deal under Johnson’s Internal Market Bill terms

Johnson’s government had recently presented its Internal Market Bill, which gives ministers unilateral powers to override the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement on customs checks on goods travelling to and from Northern Ireland, as well as on state aid issues. [EPA-EFE/VIRGINIA MAYO]

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has suggested that the EU may not ratify any potential UK-EU trade deal, should the UK adopt its Internal Market Bill without the revisions called for by the House of Lords. 

Read also: UK Lords defeat controversial bill breaking EU agreement on Northern Ireland

“Even if we do get a new trade deal negotiated by both sides, if the British government is determined to continue with their Internal Market Bill – to reintroduce parts of that Bill that were removed by the House of Lords this week – then, I think this is a deal that won’t be ratified by the EU,” Coveney told Sky News on Sunday.  

Johnson’s government had recently presented its Internal Market Bill, which gives ministers unilateral powers to override the terms of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement on customs checks on goods travelling to and from Northern Ireland, as well as on state aid issues. 

The government’s original text of the bill would have therefore breached the internationally-binding Withdrawal Agreement. 

However,  last week, the UK’s upper chamber, the House of Lords, decided to remove the section that would violate the terms of the withdrawal agreement.  

The Lords do not have veto powers, but they are able to delay legislation for up to a year. Johnson allies in Parliament say that will re-insert the elements of the text removed by peers. 

Coveney believes that if the UK government pursues this course of action, EU leaders will simply not back a trade deal.

“There is no way the EU will agree to ratify a new agreement if the British government is breaking the existing agreement that is not even 12 months old, and breaking international law by doing that,” he said. (Samuel Stolton | EURACTIV.com)

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