PM’s Brexit compromise is ‘not enough’, says Lord Howard — BBC

  • Government plans to amend a controversial bill that overrides sections of the Brexit divorce deal have been rejected by former Tory leader Lord Howard.
  • The peer said the compromise between No 10 and Tory MPs “isn’t enough” for him to back it in the House of Lords.
  • The government has now published an amendment to the bill, which would prevent ministers from activating new powers it gives them to override the Brexit divorce deal until MPs had voted to approve it first.
  • The change is similar to those proposed by senior Tory backbencher Sir Bob Neill, who will now drop an amendment he had planned on the issue.
  • Ministers have also tabled amendments to the bill that would place a time-limit on any attempts to question the legality of the controversial sections by judicial review.
  • In a policy paper published on Thursday, the government said the powers would only be triggered if the EU undermined the “fundamental purpose” of these negotiations.
  • It listed examples of what it said would constitute such behaviour, including if the EU insisted on export declarations for goods sent to Great Britain from Northern Ireland.
  • It also pledged that if it did decide to use powers to override the Brexit divorce deal, it would begin formal dispute settlement talks with the EU at the same time.

Biden says US trade deal hinges on UK ‘respect’ for Good Friday Agreement — BBC

  • Joe Biden has said he will not allow peace in Northern Ireland to become a “casualty of Brexit” if he is elected US President in November.
  • The Democratic candidate said any UK-US trade deal had to be “contingent” on respect for the Good Friday Agreement.
  • Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has been trying to reassure US politicians about the latest Brexit developments during a trip to Washington.
  • US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he trusted the UK to “get this right”.
  • But US Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there was “no chance” of a UK-US trade deal getting through the US Congress if the UK violated international agreements, undermining the Good Friday Agreement.

Brexit: Finance ministers ‘concerned’ over Internal Market Bill — BBC

  • The Stormont finance minister and his Welsh and Scottish counterparts said they “have concerns” about what the UK Internal Market Bill will mean for funding for the devolved governments.
  • Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister Conor Murphy said it was “greatly concerning” and could have “huge implications for the Good Friday Agreement”. He said: “The British government should not interfere in funding matters which are currently the responsibility of the devolved administrations. “It is also imperative that they provide details on the scope of the Shared Prosperity Fund.” “This will be a vital source of replacement funding for devolved areas and the lack of meaningful engagement to date is extremely disappointing”, he added.
  • Finance Minister for Wales, Rebecca Evans said she was also deeply concerned that the Internal Market Bill could give UK ministers “powers to fund activity in areas which are clearly devolved to Wales”. She said: “The powers set out in the bill completely undermine devolution and will see decisions currently taken in Wales clawed back by the UK Government.”
  • Scotland’s Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes said: “It is entirely unacceptable that – with no prior notice – the UK Government has written provisions into the bill that presume Whitehall control over the delivery of replacements for the EU funding programme in Scotland; a programme that Scottish ministers have delivered successfully for decades.”

Ursula von der Leyen ‘convinced’ EU-UK trade deal is still possible — Financial Times

  • Ursula von der Leyen said Britain’s decision to pursue legislation overriding elements of the withdrawal agreement had come as a “very unpleasant surprise” to the EU and that it was down to London to restore trust and remove the question mark it had put over the treaty. But she said that EU-UK talks should continue, with the dispute kept at arm’s length from the sides’ future relationship negotiations, which centre on a trade deal.
  • The comments from the head of the EU’s executive arm reflect an emerging European strategy to keep trade talks with the UK alive while Brussels continues to contest the British prime minister’s internal market bill that would override parts of the Brexit withdrawal treaty and thereby breach international law. 
  • EU diplomats said the bloc would not take decisions on whether to initiate legal action against the UK over the bill until after the next formal round of trade talks with Britain, which are scheduled to take place at the end of this month. Diplomats also underlined that the bloc was keen to channel the dispute over the bill into the EU-UK joint committee that is in charge of implementing the withdrawal agreement.
  • In a closed-door briefing with EU diplomats on Wednesday, a commission official highlighted some progress had been made on the vexed issue of access to British fishing waters. Other than fish, problematic issues in the trade talks include a continued stalemate over EU demands for a regulatory “level playing field” to protect its businesses from unfair competition. 
  • On Thursday Mr Johnson’s government published details of the concessions it had offered rebel Conservative MPs to try to secure parliamentary approval for the internal market bill. Mr Johnson has agreed that MPs should have a vote to approve the implementation of ministerial powers to override the Northern Ireland protocol that forms part of the Brexit treaty.
  • It would be up to the government to prove to MPs that the EU was “engaged in a material breach of its duties of good faith, thereby undermining the fundamental purpose of the NI protocol”.
  • The prime minister also agreed that the powers should be used “in parallel” with the “appropriate formal dispute mechanism” set up under the Brexit treaty “with the aim of finding a solution through this route”.
  • But UK officials confirmed that this was likely to irritate Brussels because it suggested that Britain would act first and not wait for the conclusion of the arbitration.
  • The concessions should ensure the internal market bill passes through the House of Commons by the end of the month — but a much bigger clash awaits in the House of Lords in November.
Author

Jessica's practice focuses on international trade and anti-bribery work, encompassing customs, export control and sanctions matters. Jessica's trade work includes advising international clients on fast-moving and evolving EU and UN sanctions, notably in respect of Iran and Russia, and on compliance with UK and EU export controls. Her trade experience also includes advising on tariff classification and customs valuations. Jessica's anti-bribery experience includes assisting with investigations, and advising clients on compliance with anti-bribery laws. Jessica has also taken a lead role in monitoring Brexit-related developments; analysing how they will affect the UK's trading position generally, and clients' businesses specifically. She has helped clients begin to conduct risk assessments of how Brexit will impact their businesses, and has assisted them in developing tailored Brexit strategies. Jessica also presents at various seminars, webinars, and conferences on the complexities of Brexit. Jessica advises global clients on complex issues arising from international transactions and works with clients across a number of sectors including pharmaceuticals, defence, finance, aviation, energy, and telecommunications. Jessica has also worked previously in Paris, and is fluent in French.

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