As the European Union prepares for a relaunch of legal proceedings in response to the UK’s Brexit move, the UK is making last-minute changes to its planned legislation.
According to sources familiar with the matter, the EU has prepared a draft statement in response to a UK move. It emphasizes a calm response, reiterating that negotiations are necessary, and reminding the UK of the fact that their trade agreement is dependent on the Brexit accord.
According to people who requested anonymity, the draft is still subject to change and was prepared by the European Commission (the EU’s executive arm). This came before London presented a bill that would give ministers unilateral authority to rewrite rules governing Northern Ireland post-Brexit.
#UK will present legislation to parliament on Monday to unilaterally revise the post #Brexit trade arrangements for #NorthernIreland, raising the risk of a trade war with the EU @thetimes reported this week that the legislation had undergone "substantial drafting and redrafting"
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Boris Johnson will push ahead with legislation Monday in the hope that it will pass the House of Commons vote. Although the bill was supposed to be presented this week due to concerns about it violating international law, and consultations with pro-Brexit MPs, the delay has been caused by last-minute changes made by senior ministers.
Johnson’s government has been pushing for a rewrite of the Northern Ireland Protocol since its inception. This protocol keeps the region within the EU’s single markets and creates a customs boundary with the UK. It hopes that the publication of the legislation will convince the pro-UK Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to restore the region’s power-sharing executive. According to one person, the DUP needs to see concrete change in order to change its position.
People said that the EU wants to be incendiary, and rather seeks to return to negotiations, particularly as it is likely that the bill will not enter into law for the next year due to strong opposition from the House of Lords in the UK.
They said that while the UK could be subject to financial penalties if it is not freed from infringement proceedings, the process has been suspended in good faith throughout negotiations. However, the UK and the EU may need to reach a trade agreement later.
Based on the October proposals, the EU said it is willing to be more flexible during negotiations. A spokesperson for the EU said that the bloc is always ready, but declined to provide details.
According to those familiar with its contents, the bill establishes the framework that will allow the protocol to change. Secondary legislation allows a minister to make direct changes without active approval from Parliament. This can be used to establish the details of the protocol, such as which goods can flow through which trade lanes.
Here are the other items that you can expect to find in the bill:
- There are two trade routes: green and red. These separate goods that flow between Britain and Northern Ireland from those intended for Ireland.
- Dual regulation system, giving businesses the option to choose whether to comply with EU or UK standards for goods.
- A trusted trade program for eligible businesses has been expanded
- Modifications to the rules regarding state aid and value-added taxes
- Replacing the European Court of Justice, the final arbiter in legal disputes between the UK courts and the European Court of Justice
Johnson is facing a difficult time and the risk of EU retaliation. On Monday, he managed to get through a confidence vote with only 148 of his MPs voting against him after the partygate scandal. He is keen to continue his legislative agenda, promising to increase the economy and ripping up the protocol.
This plan has drawn fury from EU member countries as well as top politicians in the US who demanded that peace and stability be maintained in Northern Ireland. Johnson’s dithering on the plans could anger the Brexit-supporting wings of his party.
Johnson’s party is so divided over this issue that his MPs went to the Commons to ask how far legislation would go.
Bernard Jenkin, who voted to leave the EU, said he would vote no against the bill if it did not go as far as to restore Northern Ireland’s executive. Christopher Chope, another pro-Brexit MP, called on the government to “just get on it” and stop “bickering publicly”.
Tobias Ellwood, who suggested last week that the UK should join the EU’s single markets, also warned against keeping the USA on board.
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