Tory MPs urged to stop Boris Johnson's 'act of madness' over Bill that breaks EU treaty
Prime Minister Boris Johnson took a battering in the Commons as his controversial Internal Markets BIll was debated for the first time.by Torcuil Crichton, https://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/authors/torcuil-crichton/
Tory MPs have been urged to stop Boris Johnson’s “act of madness” in defying international law by breaking the terms of the EU Withdrawal Deal.
The Prime Minister took a verbal battering this evening as the hugely controversial Internal Markets Bill was debated in the Commons.
Johnson personally defended the controversial clauses that would give UK Ministers powers to break a deal with the EU on deciding customs regulation with Northern Ireland.
The move has caused widespread concern about the damage to the UK's international reputation with some Tory MPs ready to defy the goverment.
With squirming excuses, the Tory leader accused EU negotiators of going to “extreme and unreasonable lengths” in trade negotiations thereby forcing him to threaten to renege on international law.
He sought to quell a growing Tory revolt by claiming the legislation would strengthen the hand of negotiators trying to strike an EU trade deal.
In an effort to reassure Conservative MPs, Johnson said the measures were an “insurance policy” he hoped would “never be invoked” if an agreement was reached with Brussels.
But Labour’s Ed Miliband, who stood in for leader Keir Starmer, wiped the floor with the Prime Minister’s arguments as Johnson grimaced on the government benches.
Miliband told the Commons: “Our global reputation for rule-making not rule-breaking is one of the reasons we are so respected around the world.
“And when you ask of people to think of Britain they think of the rule of law and let’s be clear after the Prime Minister’s speech this is not an argument about Remain vs Leave, it is an argument about right vs wrong.”
Miliband took a swipe at Johnson, calling on him “for the first time in his life it is time to take responsibility”.
The Shadow Business Secretary said: “It is time to fess up. Either he wasn’t straight with the country about the deal in the first place or he didn’t understand it.
"Because a competent government would never have entered into a binding agreement with provisions it could not live with.”
Miliband also found common ground with the SNP by arguing strongly against parts of the bill that allow UK Ministers to become involved in previously devolved policy areas.
Ian Blackford warned Tory MPs not to follow the Prime Minister by breaking the law.
“Stop the Prime Minister in this act of madness,” the SNP Westminster leader said.
He told the Commons: “This is a test for the House this evening, do not wait for the committee stage. Legally, morally, ethically, the right thing to do is to vote down this Bill tonight.
“Do not follow the Prime Minister in acquiescing in breaking the law because if you vote for second reading tonight, that’s exactly what you’re all doing."
Blackford added: "So this is a test and I understand the challenge that Conservative members face – don’t support the Prime Minister by breaking the law this evening, it is as simple as that.”
In a torrid day for the Government David Cameron became the fifth ex-Prime Minister to speak out against Johnson’s Brexit plans.
Cameron, who rarely speaks out after presiding over the 2016 EU referendum, said: “Passing an act of parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate."
Several Tory grandees, including the former Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox , have also spoken out could abstain in a showdown vote next week.
A vote on the second reading of the Bill is due after 10pm tonight.