Britain is preparing for a new round of Brexit trade talks with the European Union on Tuesday as it notes that it could possibly break international law but only in a “limited way” after several talks pointing to the fact that it may tear its withdrawal treaty with the EU.
As trade talk stall and fear of a no-deal Brexit loom, the government’s legal department head quit in disagreement with a plan to overwrite parts of the Withdrawal Agreement treaty signed earlier this year.
The UK divorced the EU 31 January and since then talks on a new trade deal have stalled at all levels increasing fears of no-deal Brexit if there is no positive outcome from the next round of talks by next month and then the end of the status-quo transition arrangement in late December.
As diplomats gauged whether the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was blustering or really serious about heading for a tumultuous finale to the four-year saga, the UK has insisted it would abide by the treaty.
When asked if anything in the proposed legislation could breach international legal obligations or arrangements, Northern Ireland minister Brandon Lewis said, “Yes, this does break international law in a very specific and limited way.”
“We are taking the powers to disapply the EU law concept of direct effect required by article 4 in a certain, very tightly defined circumstance,” he responded to the parliament while adding that the government supported the Northern Ireland protocol of the Withdrawal Agreement and there was “clear precedence” for what Britain was planning.
— Catherine Nicholson (@ACatInParis) September 8, 2020
The EU has warned that if it reneged on the Brexit deal there would be no agreement governing the roughly $1 trillion annual trade. Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Theresa May said the government could face serious damage to its international image.
“The government is now changing the operation of that agreement. Given that, how can the government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?” May asked.