Simon Hoare, Tory chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, said Geoffrey Cox’s condemnation of the Government’s plans which could lead to a breach of international law could not be ignored.
“Geoffrey is a man for whom respect for the Rule of Law (and it’s defence) is paramount. His intervention cannot be overlooked, ignored or swatted away,” he said.
He highlighted the influential role the former attorney general played as a “lightening (sic) rod” among backbench MPs during Theresa May’s Brexit battles.
“I remember hearing lots of colleagues saying at the time: ‘if Geoffrey says it’s no dice; I’m not playing’. Lots saying ‘if Cox unhappy I’m not going for it’.
“As a committed Brexiter he should remain an important lightening rod.”
Read the Labour leader’s full reaction here:
Sir Keir Starmer has told the Prime Minister to “get on with” getting a deal with the EU, warning that he is “making a mistake” by planning to renege on a treaty.
The Labour leader said Boris Johnson should not be re-treading old ground with the Brexit deal and should instead focus on finding a way to “defeat” the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to LBC, he said: “Boris Johnson is all over the place.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Prime Minister needed to “get on with” getting a deal with the EU rather than re-treading old ground.
Speaking to LBC, he said: “Boris Johnson is all over the place.
“Here he is, he’s signed a deal – he either knew what he was signing, in which case how has he got himself in this position? Or else he didn’t know, which I think is probably worse.
“I don’t think the outstanding issues can’t be resolved so my message to Boris Johnson is: get on with it and actually focus on what most people are speaking about this morning which is how on Earth do we defeat and deal with this pandemic?
“That’s what’s on people’s minds – they thought this was over, he’s reopening it, I think the nation would say to Boris Johnson, ‘Get on with it, you’re wrong’.”
Mr Miliband added: “What we’re saying to the government is there are ways of fixing this and there’s ways of coming together as the four nations of the United Kingdom to set those standards.
“That’s the way you should be doing it, not upending devolution settlements.
“And the reason that’s important is we desperately believe in a United Kingdom, we want to keep the United Kingdom together.
“I fear that the way the Government is going about these issues give rather an excuse to those who seek to break it up.”
Former attorney general Geoffrey Cox confirmed to Times Radio that he had spoken to Boris Johnson about his objections to the Internal Market Bill.
He said: “I have spoken to the Prime Minister. We’ve had long discussions and I know the Prime Minister is giving very careful thought to these things.
“And I know the Government feels that it really has no choice, that if the actions of the EU are borne out…
“If the statements they appear to have made are fulfilled. it would place an enormously difficult problem in the way of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland… it would amount to a demonstration of a want of good faith for which the Government should take action.
“It’s just the action it should take, in my view, shouldn’t be unlawful.”
Former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband has said the Internal Market Bill “rides rather roughshod” over the powers given to the devolved administrations in the UK.
He told BBC Breakfast: “First of all we’ve got to get rid of the provisions that breach international law.
“The second set of issues is more complex but is nevertheless important and is about the United Kingdom.
“What this bill seeks to do is to have an internal market so that we can sell goods across the United Kingdom, now that’s really important and I think we need to do.
“But the way the government has chosen to do it rides rather roughshod over the powers that were gave to the devolved countries like Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland over setting key regulatory standards.”
Labour’s Ed Miliband has said his objections to the Internal Market Bill are not about “remain or leave” but an argument of “right or wrong”.
He told BBC Breakfast: “This is not about reheating the Brexit argument, it is not about remain or leave, we’ve left the European Union, this is really about right or wrong.”
Mr Miliband added: “In politics when you are confronted by something as extreme as this, breaking the law, on a day when we are saying to families around the country it’s really important that you obey the law, because our health and survival depends on it, the rule of six, we cannot have the government coming along and breaking the law.
“Because it sends all the wrong signals both at home and abroad.”
Read the full story here:
David Cameron has spoken out about the Government’s plans to override the Brexit treaty saying he has “misgivings”.
The former Prime Minister said: “Passing an act of Parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate, it should be an absolute final last resort.
“So I do have misgivings about what is being proposed.”
Former attorney general Geoffrey Cox said the Government “knew” what it was signing up to when it ratified the Withdrawal Agreement.
He told Times Radio: “What I can say from my perspective is we simply cannot approve or endorse a situation in which we go back on our word, given solemnly not only by the British Government and on behalf of the British Crown, but also by Parliament when we ratified this in February, unless there are extreme circumstances which arrive involving a breach of duty of the good faith by the EU.
“In those circumstances, there are then lawful remedies open to us and it is those we should take rather than violating international law and a solemn treaty.”
He continued: “The breaking of the law leads ultimately to very long-term and permanent damage to this country’s reputation and it is also a question of honour to me – we signed up, we knew what we were signing, we simply can’t seek to nullify those ordinary consequences of doing that and I simply can’t support that.
“But, as I’ve said, there may be circumstances in which these powers could be lawfully used and it is those circumstances that the Government needs to define, I believe, to get the support of people like me.
“And, may I say, I find myself in a very sad position – I’m a strong supporter of this Government, I’m a strong supporter of Brexit, but for me the crossing of an important boundary is when the Government says it is going to break the law and a treaty it signed.”
Mr Cameron said breaking an international treaty should be an “absolute final last resort” but he added that negotiating a deal with the EU is the “bigger picture”.
I do have misgivings about what is being proposed.
But I would just make this point: So far what’s happened is the Government has proposed a law that it might pass or might not pass, might use or might not use, depending on whether certain circumstances do or do not appear.
Of course the bigger picture here is we are in a vital negotiation with the EU to get a deal and I think we have to keep that context, that big prize, in mind and that is probably why I’ve held back from saying more until now.
Former prime minister David Cameron tells Sky News this morning that passing an act of Parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is “the very very last thing you should contemplate”.
UK’s chief Brexit negotiator, Lord David Frost in Westminster, London:
Former attorney general Geoffrey Cox said the Government had not done enough to explain how it would use the powers set out in the Internal Market Bill.
Speaking to Times Radio, the Tory MP said: “I think the fundamental problem at the moment is that it is not clear the circumstances in which the powers taken by the Bill would be used.
“The Government thus far has not given any definition to those circumstances.
“If the powers are to be used simply to nullify the foreseeable and ordinary consequences of an agreement we signed, that to me is simply to go back on an agreement that both the British Government signed solemnly and Parliament itself ratified in February.
“I think it is wrong that the British Government or our Parliament should renege on an agreement on which we gave our solemn word.”
Conservative MP Michael Fabricant comes out for the bill:
Reactions flood in after Goeffrey Cox says he will vote against bill which overrides withdrawal agreement:
Former Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers has ruled out rebelling on the Internal Market Bill.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, she said: “I will be supporting the Bill because I think it is sensible to have a fall-back position if the EU continues to refuse to negotiate reasonably on arrangements for transporting goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
Ms Villiers said the Government was “certainly taking a tough approach” to the negotiations with Brussels by tabling the legislation but added that the measures in the Bill would only be required if no agreement was forthcoming on how the Northern Ireland Protocol could be “exercised”.
She added that a “day-to-day part of the international law system” involved discrepancies over its domestic application, citing David Cameron’s refusal to introduce votes for prisoners despite a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights.
Kit Malthouse said arguments against the UK Internal Market Bill do not “solve the problem we’re faced with”.
Asked what he thought of former attorney general Geoffrey Cox’s intervention at the weekend, Mr Malthouse told the BBC: “Well it’s very poetic but it doesn’t, for me personally, solve the problem that we’re faced with, which is we’re in a situation where if this third-country status is withheld from the UK.
“It means that food exports from GB to Northern Ireland could in theory become illegal in the future and in those circumstances I’m not quite sure what a British Prime Minister is supposed to do.
“What we’ve done is to say transparently that this is a situation which we think may occur, certainly that’s what’s being intimated from the EU, that it’s a problem we have to solve so here’s a bill that solves it.”
He added: “In the end those people that oppose this bill have to tell us what the resolution is.”
The Policing Minister has admitted that the Government could be breaking international law with their plans to override the Brexit treaty:
The Policing Minister has admitted that the Government could be breaking international law with their plans to override the Brexit treaty.
The Prime Minister is facing a revolt from Tory MPs over plans that would break international law and allow him to renege on parts of his Brexit deal.
Home Office minister Kit Malthouse has said he will vote for the UK Internal Market Bill even if it breaks international law.
He told BBC Breakfast: “I’ll be voting for the bill because I don’t believe that if that circumstance should arise, where food is prevented from moving from GB to Northern Ireland, that the Prime Minister has any choice but to take powers to allow Tesco to stock the shelves in Belfast.”
Asked if he would do so even if it broke international law, the Tory MP added: “I will be voting for the bill this afternoon, yes.”