UK's new Brexit plan will 'break international law', Northern Ireland Secretary admits

UK's new Brexit plan will 'break international law', Northern Ireland Secretary admits

THE UK Government's plans to override the EU withdrawal agreement on Northern Irish border checks 'breaks international law', according to a Government minister.

Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis was yesterday being questioned about the Government's announcement that they would attempt to change parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement which had been negotiated, signed and voted into law last year.

The new legislation could undermine parts of the withdrawal agreement and give greater priority to seamless trade between England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.  

Some of the clauses will also override parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed last year, in a move that could pave the way for a return to a hard border. 

The questioning, both by opposition parties and Conservative party members, led Mr Lewis to admit that the legislation does "break international law in a specific and limited way".

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis was asked to reassure the public that the new legislation does not break internation law-- Mr Lewis responded "It does break international law, in a very limited and specific way"

Former Prime Minister Theresa May warned Mr Lewis that this blatant pushback could damage trust between the UK and any future trade partners, asking:

"The government is now changing the operation of that agreement. Given that, how can the government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?"

The permanent secretary to the Government Legal Department and the Government's most senior lawyer, Sir Jonathan Jones, has resigned in light of the new legislation, which he said went too far in breaching international law, according to the BBC.

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs and former Tánaiste, Simon Coveney, had previously said the UK's plans to override the withdrawal treaty was "very unwise".

Yesterday, following Mr Lewis's admission that the legislation broke the law, Mr Coveney said the situation was "gravely concerning".

"Any unilateral departure from the terms of the withdrawal agreement would be a matter of considerable concern and a very serious step," he warned.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed concerns earlier this week, stating that if a deal between the UK and EU had not been done by 15 October, both sides should "move on" and allow the UK to exit with 'no-deal'.

This is despite a withdrawal agreement having already been negotiated and accepted by both sides, and Mr Johnson's Conservative Party campaigning in the last General Election on the basis of an 'Oven-ready' Brexit deal.