EU tells Downing Street bill still breaks international law regardless of compromise

Guy Verhofstadt in the European parliament.

Guy Verhofstadt in the European parliament. Photograph: European Parliament.

The EU has told Downing Street its bill to override key elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement will continue to break international law, despite ministers agreeing a compromise with Tory rebels.

Boris Johnson was forced to agree to table an amendment to the UK Internal Market Bill, giving MPs a vote before the government can use powers which would breach the deal brokered with the EU last year.

But despite the government’s compromise, Brussels said that its position had not changed and it still wanted the clauses to be withdrawn from the legislation.

Eric Mamer, chief spokesman for the European Commission, told a press briefing: “We have as you know set out a position extremely clearly, it is in our statement, and it relates to those clauses being withdrawn from the law.

“That position has not changed and we have asked the UK to do this at the earliest possible convenience, and by the end of September at the latest. That has not changed.”

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The spokesman also insisted the EU carries out negotiations in “good faith”, after the prime minister told MPs he did not believe they had acted as such in the Brexit talks.

Mamer said: “I think that Michel Barnier showed, in the context of the negotiations on the Withdrawal Agreement, that even on extremely complex and politically sensitive issues the Commission and indeed the EU negotiate in perfectly good faith.”

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Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator during talks on the Withdrawal Agreement, tweeted: “The climbdown by @10DowningStreet on the IM Bill might be ending the Tory Rebellion, but it’s still a clear breach of international law.

“The @Europarl_EN will not give its consent to any trade deal if this is not rectified & the Good Friday Agreement protected.”

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