Northern Ireland committee chair criticised for abstaining on bill to break protocol

Simon Hoare MP in the House of Commons

Simon Hoare MP in the House of Commons - Credit: Parliament TV

Despite warnings over the government's attempts to break international law by overriding the Northern Ireland Protocol with the Internal Market Bill, the Tory chair of the Northern Ireland committee plans to abstain.

Simon Hoare MP, who chairs the influential parliamentary committee on issues related to the country, has come under criticism for his comments in a Twitter post.

The senior Tory MP quoted a tweet which issues a warning from Mick Mulvaney, the US envoy for Northern Ireland, on the unlikeness of a post-Brexit trade deal.

Mulvaney told journalists: “Their attitude is 'look the British need to know that if a border goes up, then all deals are off. I think that's the accurate position of the entire federal government".

Hoare responded: "Incredibly clear & important comment. BOTH sides of the aisle stand united (in the US that’s not an everyday occasion) to ensure the Good Friday Agreement & the peace of the island of Ireland are maintained."

But despite the warning, the MP said he will be abstaining at the third reading of the bill rather than voting against.

He was roundly criticised for his decision to sit on the fence during the important vote.

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Owen Warne wrote: "Aren't you Chairman of the NI Select Committee? If so, don't you think voting against this bill, rather than abstaining would be a stronger stand? Of course you do, but keeping your job is more important than your integrity isn't it?"

Richard Milne tweeted: "Abstaining as the govt breaks the law, is the equivalent of standing and doing nothing while and old lady is mugged. You don't help the muggers, but neither do you do anything to impede them. Grow a spine!"

Jonathan Banks replied: "Simon, this was a chance for you to stand on the right side of history."

Sarah Mackie posted: "A rare glimpse of a lesser-spotted Tory rebel, who is going to go about rebelling by parking his backside firmly on the fence."

Another tweeted: "Stop being a coward and vote against it. Or is your job more important than the people of Ireland?"

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