After considerable and often heated debate, MPs voted on September 14 to support Boris Johnsons’ Home Market Bill by 340 votes to 263.
Although the controversial proposals will still have to pass several more rounds of votes, including in the House of Lords where serious opposition is expected, last night’s vote means the legislation has cleared the first major hurdle on the way to law. .
While the government says the bill is necessary to protect Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK should trade negotiations fail, the bill has drawn major criticism, criticism from all political horizons claiming it would violate UK international law. .
What is the Internal Market Bill?
According to the government, the Home Market Bill aims to allow goods and services to move freely in the four countries of the UK.
Boris Johnsons official spokesperson said the Internal Market Bill will provide a vital legal safety net that will allow the government to take the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of the UK internal market.
The bill aims to enshrine mutual recognition and non-discrimination in terms of trade between the four nations of the UK, ensuring that all goods and services that may be sold in any part of the UK can be sold in another, and that no nation government can introduce regulations that would favor goods or services in one part of the UK over another.
So what is the problem?
Critics say the main problem with the Home Market Bill is that it would replace parts of the Withdrawal Agreement, which was accepted by Boris Johnson last year as part of his Brexit deal. ready for the oven.
The bill would give ministers the power to regulate customs procedures for trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, as well as state aid.
It would also allow ministers to create regulations that would not be compatible with the UK’s obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement.
Specifically, it will replace parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which recognizes the problems of achieving frictionless trade across the UK as well as across the island of Ireland, in accordance with the Good Friday deal.
Ultimately, he seeks to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland, which will continue to be part of the EU’s single market, and Northern Ireland, which will come under the UK’s internal market.
Does the bill violate international law?
According to the government itself, yes.
Speaking to the House of Commons last week, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told MPs the Internal Market Bill violates international law in specific and limited ways.
First, the UK would be breaking part of the Withdrawal Agreement by allowing ministers to create the regulations.
However, the real problems would arise if ministers effectively exercised these powers and in doing so actively violated the state aid and customs provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Even before last night’s vote, the European Union threatened legal action and accused the UK of seriously undermining trust between the two sides.
Ursulla Von-der Leyen, Head of the EU Council, tweeted: “Very concerned about announcements by the UK government on its intention to violate the Withdrawal Agreement.
Who voted for and against?
The bill was easily passed last night, thanks to an 80-seat majority from the conservative parties, despite several abstentions from the conservative benches.
While a number of top Tory MPs have expressed concerns about the bill and some abstained in last night’s vote, only two backbenchers have rebelled against the government. to vote against the bill last night.
These were MP Andrew Percy, Brigg and Goole, and Sir Roger Gale, MP North Thanet.
Some high-level Tory MPs, including former Chancellor and Home Secretary Sajid Javid, have said they would not be able to support the bill if it is not amended.
Who spoke out against this?
Speaking at the shipping box last night, shadowy Workers’ affairs secretary Ed Miliband joked that Boris Johnson was able to unite all of his predecessors, referring to the public interventions made by every former Prime living minister warning against reopening the Withdrawal Agreement.
Over the past week, Theresa May, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and John Major have all publicly weighed in on the Internal Market Bill, with David Cameron saying he has doubts about the legislation.
What happens next?
The bill will continue to go through the various stages of the vote in the House of Commons this week, starting with report stage reading later today.
It will only be proposed for Royal Assent when it has been cleared in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, where serious opposition is expected.
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