FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during a virtual news conference on the ongoing situation with the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at Downing Street, London, Britain September 9, 2020. Stefan Rousseau/Pool via REUTERS

Johnson's plan to break Brexit divorce treaty faces vote in UK parliament

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's plan to break international law by breaching parts of the Brexit divorce treaty with the European Union faces a vote in parliament on Monday (Sep 14) amid growing opposition from within his own party.

The House of Commons will on Monday debate the Internal Market Bill, which the EU has demanded Johnson scrap by the end of September. After the debate, lawmakers will decide if it should go to the next stage. A vote could be late.

Johnson's decision to explicitly break international law has plunged Brexit back into crisis less than four months before Britain is finally due to leave the EU's orbit when a post-Brexit transition period ends in December.

The EU has ramped up no-deal Brexit preparations while Britain has dismissed an ultimatum from Brussels to scrap the main parts of the Bill by the end of September.

Johnson, who has a majority of 80 in the lower house of parliament, is facing a growing revolt from some of his own lawmakers while former prime ministers John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Theresa May have criticised the plan.

"When the queen’s minister gives his word, on her behalf, it should be axiomatic that he will keep it, even if the consequences are unpalatable," Johnson's former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox said in The Times.

"No British minister should solemnly undertake to observe treaty obligations with his fingers crossed behind his back," said Cox, who was sacked by Johnson in February.

Britain says the Bill - which explicitly says that it could be inconsistent with a host of international laws - merely clarifies ambiguities. It says it is committed to the Brexit treaty though its main priority is the 1998 Northern Irish peace deal that ended decades of violence.