The Government brought back The Internal Market Bill for its final stages of the legislative process in the House of Commons. I have serious concerns about this Bill. I believe that we need a strong internal single market so that businesses can operate freely across the UK. Instead, the Government have introduced legislation that will frustrate the harmonisation of commerce and political cooperation across our nations and regions.
The Prime Minister negotiated and signed an international treaty with the European Union last year The Northern Ireland Protocol, an integral part of this treaty, sets out how goods will be traded between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, applying the EU customs code on Northern Ireland as part of the island of Ireland and the EU-UK land border. Part 5 of the Internal Markets Bill empowers the Government to disapply parts of the Protocol and therefore ignore legal obligations enshrined in both domestic and international law.
The Government’s Northern Ireland Secretary acknowledged before the House of Commons that this bill breaks international law “in a very specific and limited way”. Britain’s reputation on the international stage is built upon our values of standing up for the rule of law.
As Chief Whip to the Parliamentary Labour Party, I facilitated the Opposition’s amendments to the Bill,
namely New Clause 1 and 2 which sought to require ministers to uphold the rule of law and require the British Government to reach an agreement with devolved governments on common frameworks. Unfortunately, the Government were able to use their majority to defeat these amendments and successfully pass the Bill through the House of Commons. It will now move on to the House of Lords where it will receive further scrutiny.