Brexit bill set for collision course in House of Lords as peers demand ‘clarity’ from Michael Gove

Cabinet minister Michael Gove in Whitehall. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove in Whitehall. Photograph: Victoria Jones/PA.

Peers from the House of Lords have called on the government to urgently explain how its Brexit bill will impact the union.

Peers have called on the government urgently clarify why it is prepared to override key elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK internal market bill (UKIMB), currently being examined by MPs, will enable ministers to breach provisions in the agreement relating to Northern Ireland.

Boris Johnson was this week forced to agree to table an amendment to the UKIMB giving MPs a vote before the government can use powers which would breach the Withdrawal Agreement.

But the Lords EU Committee has written to cabinet office minister Michael Gove demanding clarity on a number of aspects of the bill.

It has asked whether it remains the government’s view that the bill “does break international law in a very specific and limited way”, and has requested evidence to back up Johnson’s claim the EU had not acted in good faith.

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Lord Kinnoull, chairman of the committee, said: “We raised a lot of concerns with the government in our report back in June over the lack of clarity on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“The government has yet to provide much of that clarity, and now the UK internal market bill, in particular Part 5, has thrown up even bigger questions over the UK’s approach to implementation of the protocol.

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“The government’s paramount goal must be to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland.

“The protocol’s stated aim is to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and to protect the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, while respecting the territorial integrity of the UK.

“Given that the government has now said that it is prepared to break the agreement on the protocol, we need to be absolutely clear about why it is doing this.

“This is an urgent matter as time is short.”

The committee has requested a response by September 25. It intends to publish a report ahead of the bill’s second reading in the House of Lords.

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