UK government plan gets MPs' final backing
EU has warned it will not agree a free-trade deal unless bill’s treaty-breaking clauses removedEuropost
Britain MPs have given their final backing to government plans to override parts of its Brexit agreement with the EU. The legislation, which passed through the House of Commons by 340 votes to 256, will now go to the House of Lords. The government says it will help protect the integrity of the UK.
Amid concerns that the move would break international law, ministers agreed to give Parliament a say before ever using the powers they would be granted by the Internal Market Bill. But Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the EU argue that - in allowing the government to undo parts of a treaty signed by the EU and UK - it could damage the country's international reputation and standing. The UK's five living former prime ministers - Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May - have spoken out against the bill.
The parliamentary debate on Tuesday came as the EU and the UK began a ninth - and final - scheduled round of talks aimed at securing a trade deal. The post-Brexit transition period - in which the UK has kept to EU trading rules and remained inside its customs union and single market - runs out at the end of the year. If the sides fail to reach a deal, the UK would trade with the EU after that on World Trade Organization rules. This would mean tariffs on most goods which UK businesses send to the EU, while the UK could also apply tariffs to EU goods.
The Internal Market Bill now goes to the House of Lords where critics including the Brexiteer former Conservative leader Michael Howard have said the concession to backbench MPs is inadequate. The Lords have not set a timetable for the Bill’s passage and it is not likely to become law before late November or December.
The European Union has warned that it will not agree a free trade deal with Britain unless the treaty-breaking clauses are removed from the Bill.