Ken Clarke has said Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill shows the prime minister has “absolute contempt” for the way of Westminster business is conducted.
The former Tory chancellor was discussing the internal market bill when he said Johnson’s determination to push through the legislation was a Donald Trump tactics and could lead to major repercussions with US president-elect Joe Biden.
Speaking on ITV’s Peston, Clarke – one of 21 Tory MPs who had the whip removed when they voted with the opposition on a Brexit motion – said: “I spoke on the second reading earlier on and I assumed the feeling was so strong then that Downing Street would try to get out of it.
“It’s a kind of Donald Trump-like gesture.
“At this late stage in these difficult negotiations with the Europeans, some bright spark came up with the idea that we should tell them that we’re going to break the treaty that we ratified, that we made with them, only eight months before.
“And if they don’t give us whatever it is we’re after, on Ireland or something, then we will just do what we like, break our own domestic law, break international law.”
He continued: “They didn’t explain quite what they do intend to do about customs, controls and all the rest of it. It was a bizarre gesture.
“To actually take it through parliament, and to think that they’re not going to have terrible trouble, was extraordinary.
“As well as showing absolute contempt for the ordinary way of doing business.”
Discussing how the new president-elect would react to the Brexit bill, the Tory peer said: “Joe Biden’s an old pro, an old Senator, he doesn’t smoke but he’s a smoke-filled room deal maker, as all the best Senators are when it comes to a crisis.
“When you’re dealing with people like Joe Biden, this kind of childish stuff is very very harmful.
“The whole thing is actually deeply, deeply worrying because it’s breaking the rule of law.”