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14th September 2020, 20:40

​Five former UK Prime Ministers condemn plans for bill that would attempt to override Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

Five former UK Prime Ministers have condemned plans for a bill that would attempt to override the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

The withdrawal agreement is now an international treaty. A key part of it was the Northern Ireland Protocol, designed to prevent a hard border returning to the island of Ireland.

The Internal Market Bill proposed by the government would override that part of that agreement when it came to goods, in the event of the two sides not agreeing a future trade deal.

The Internal Market Bill, which is set to be presented for a second reading and vote in the House of Commons tonight, would override parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

David Cameron is the latest to criticise the Bill, claiming he has misgivings over it and that breaking international treaties should be a last resort.

Former Conservative Prime Ministers Theresa May and Sir John Major, and Labour's Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have all spoken out against the Bill.

Conservative MP and former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has said he will vote against the bill, adding that Mr Johnson is doing "unconscionable" damage to Britain's international reputation.

Last week, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the bill would "break international law" in a "specific and limited way."

Articles in the UK press have highlighted the move could undermine trust in British negotiators. Earlier this week Theresa May questioned how other countries could be reassured that Britain can be trusted to abide by its legal obligations if this Bill goes ahead.

An article in The Economist assesses that if the UK is seen to be flouting international law, other countries might take issue with previously agreed treaties citing the Treaty of Utrecht as an example.