The government has said it will persist with its controversial Brexit bill, despite defeat in the House of Lords and worries it could damage the prospect of trade deals with the EU and US.
The House of Lords voted on 9 November to remove clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill, which would change the rules governing Northern Irish custom checks and state aid and could breach the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement that the UK signed with the EU in January.
The bill also risks putting the UK at odds with incoming US President Joe Biden who warned during the campaign that any US-UK trade deal would depend on continued British adherence to the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland in 1998.
Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said on 9 November that if the UK goes ahead with the bill, there would be no UK-EU trade deal.
“If UK passes law designed to break International law… then there will be no trade deal. EU cannot ratify a new deal while UK is legislating to break a previous agreement,” he tweeted.
A UK government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the House of Lords has voted to remove clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill, which was backed in the House of Commons by 340 votes to 256 and delivers on a clear Conservative manifesto commitment. We will retable these clauses when the bill returns to the Commons.
“We’ve been consistently clear that the clauses represent a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market and the huge gains of the peace process.
“We expect the House of Lords to recognise that we have an obligation to the people of Northern Ireland to make sure they continue to have unfettered access to the UK under all circumstances.”
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