Wednesday, 2 Dec 2020

Iain Duncan Smith shames EU for breaking OWN rules amid Brexit Internal Market bill row

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Former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has explained that the European Union has broken treaties in the past when it is against their constitution. He revealed that Brussels is in “constant disputes” with the WTO. Speaking to Jonathan Saxty on Brexit Watch, Sir Iain said: “I do think they’ve hoisted international law on to some kind of pedestal that it’s never been on.

“There have been many times when the European Union simply refuses to implement international law that is has signed up to.

“The WTO is in constant dispute with the EU because it refuses to apply what members of the WTO are meant to.

“They’ve been fined already for state aid and support to AirBus. They’ve never paid that and refused to accept it.

“There are plenty of others in steel and all sorts of things.

“But also there is a general ruling that puts this all into context. The EU believes categorically that their domestic law which makes up their constitution has priority over any treaty law.

“That means they sign up to the treaty, they see the obligations in it through the domestic process which may lead them to say it affects our constitutional settlement and we can’t use it.”

His comments come as powers enabling ministers to break international law could be stripped from controversial Brexit legislation by peers within days.

The UK Internal Market Bill is undergoing detailed line-by-line scrutiny in the House of Lords, and is currently scheduled for four days of consideration at committee stage.

The legislation sets out the way that trade within the UK will work once it is outside the EU’s single market and customs union.

But cross-party amendments have been tabled to strike out clauses linked to the most contentious part of the Bill, namely part five which gives ministers the power to breach the Brexit divorce deal – known as the Withdrawal Agreement – brokered with Brussels last year.

The amendments are in the name of Lord Judge, a former lord chief justice, shadow attorney general Lord Falconer of Thoroton and Conservative former leader Lord Howard of Lympne.

Liberal Democrat Lords leader Lord Newby and the Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, are also among supporters of some of the cross-party proposals.


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Labour has indicated peers could take the unusual step of holding votes at committee stage next week to remove these sections of the Bill rather than waiting for report stage, the part of the process where they tend to vote on matters connected to legislation.

Ministers have insisted powers to override the Withdrawal Agreement are needed to protect the relationship between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

But critics argue the powers are not necessary, with Conservative former prime minister Theresa May previously stating an arbitration process to resolve issues would be available – meaning the Government’s additions have “no place in this Bill”.

Peers last week fired the opening salvo in the battle over the Bill by heavily defeating Boris Johnson’s administration on a “regret” amendment, which condemned the contentious provisions and warned they “would undermine the rule of law and damage the reputation of the United Kingdom”.

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