Britain’s Northern Ireland trade law removes first parliamentary hurdle

A law allowing the UK to repeal certain rules Post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland Monday passed the first of several parliamentary tests, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson pressured the European Union with plans that angered the EU.

Despite some sharp criticism, lawmakers voted 295 to 221 in favor of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would unilaterally reverse part of Britain’s divorce deal from the EU agreed in 2020. The bill now proceeds to a line-by-line investigation.

Tensions with the EU have escalated for months after Britain insisted on Brussels on a heavy-handed approach to the movement of goods between Britain and Northern Ireland – a check necessary to keep an open border with EU member Ireland .

Johnson has described those changes as “relatively trivial” and ministers say the move does not break international law, but the EU has started legal proceedings against Britain over its plans.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Twitter after the vote: “While the outcome of a dialogue remains our priority – the EU must accept a change in protocol.”

Asked whether the changes set out in the new bill could be implemented this year, Johnson told broadcasters: “Yes, I think we can do it much faster, Parliament wills”.

Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, was one of many in his Conservative Party to criticize his leader.

“This bill, in my view, is not legal in international law, it will not achieve its objectives and it will undermine the position of the United Kingdom in the eyes of the world, and I cannot support it,” she said.

Ahead of the vote, Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said the bill would not lead to a permanent solution and would only add to the uncertainty in Northern Ireland.

“I am deeply disappointed that the British Government is continuing its illegal unilateral approach to the Protocol on Northern Ireland,” he said in a statement.

Johnson has a majority to push the law through the House of Commons, although a vocal group of rebels has raised concerns about his authority following his survival in a vote of confidence on June 6 and the embarrassing loss of two parliamentary seats on Friday. will add.

The bill will face a major challenge when it eventually moves to the upper house, the unelected House of Lords, where the government does not have a majority and many peers have expressed concerns about it. (Reporting by William Schomberg, Kylie McClellan and William James in London; Writing by Padrik Halpin, Elizabeth Piper and Alistair Smout in Dublin; Editing by Alistair Bell, Gareth Jones and Grant McCool)