Cox, previously a strong supporter of Johnson in Brexit, said he would not support the proposal when the House of Commons gets its first vote on the controversial legislation later Monday.
“I simply cannot approve or endorse a situation in which we return to our solemnly delivered speech,” Cox told Times Radio on Monday. Violation of the law eventually leads to very long-term and permanent damage to the reputation of this country.
The Johnsons movement threatens to sink the already founding negotiations between Britain and the EU on a post-Brexit trade deal.
As part of the Brexit divorce deal, Britain and the EU agreed to keep Northern Ireland the only part of the UK to share a border with the bloc linked to some EU trade rules, to avoid the need for border controls of goods moving between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Both sides accepted the compromise to protect the open border, which helps support the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Johnson claims the EU has threatened to use an extreme interpretation of the withdrawal agreement to block food shipments from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland if Britain does not agree to accept EU regulations. He says this threatens the integrity of the UK
The Internal Market bill, which the government hopes to pass into law within a few weeks, would give the British government the power to overcome the EU’s agreed role in overseeing trade between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.
The EU denies threatening a blockade and says it simply wants Britain to abide by the terms of the agreement.
EU leaders are angry with the prime ministers’ proposal, which the British government admits would violate an international treaty.
The bloc has threatened the UK with legal action if it does not reject the proposal by the end of the month.
With a 80-seat majority in the House of Commons, Johnson is expected to have enough votes to push his legislation through Parliament. But Coxs’s opposition reflects widespread concern within the ruling Conservative Party.
Conservative lawmaker Rehman Chishti left on Monday as the prime minister’s special envoy for religious freedom in protest of the bill. He wrote on Twitter how ex-lawyer, values of respect for the rule of law and honor of speech are dear to me.
Cox, a respected lawyer who resolutely defended the government during parliamentary debates on the withdrawal agreement last year, said the unfortunate consequences of the withdrawal agreement were known when it was negotiated.
He said that instead of giving up its international commitments, the government should use the legal remedies included in the agreement itself to challenge any unreasonable behavior by the EU.
No British minister should solemnly undertake to abide by the obligations of the treaty with his fingers crossed behind his back, Cox wrote in the Times of London.
The debate comes at a crucial time for talks between Britain and the EU.
The UK formally left the bloc on 31 January, but existing trade rules remain in force until the end of this year under a transition agreement set up to provide time to negotiate a long-term trade deal.
Despite the coldness in relations between London and Brussels and the threat of legal action, trade talks between the two sides will continue this week. Both sides say any agreement must be agreed by next month so there is time for it to be ratified by December 31st.
If there is no agreement, tariffs and other barriers to trade will be set by both parties in early 2021.
That would mean major economic disruption for the UK, which makes up half of its trade with the bloc. A no-deal exit on January 1 would hit some EU nations in particular, including Ireland, France, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Copyright 2020 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, transmitted, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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