The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has only 24 hours left to respond to the EU’s threat of legal action against the British government following the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen threat.
Ursula von der Leyen had threatened the EU would at the end of this month take legal action to stop the UK from using the Internal Market Bill to override major aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement which was signed last year.
The EU had been infuriated by Mr Johnson and his administration for ignoring demands to changes in the law, which could give ministers the powers to change parts of the exit deal – mostly on trade with Northern Ireland and also break international law.
Michel Barnier who leads the EU’s Brexit negotiating team has always said the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement is a “must” for any trade agreement and future political relationship deal with the UK.
Brussels have always pushed that the treaty has the legal force of an international agreement and is not allowed to be changed for any reason.
Ursula von der Leyen said the Internal Market Bill is “a breach of the obligation of good faith” when she slammed the threat of legal action against the UK earlier this month.
Another supporter of the legal move by the EU was European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic who initially warned that the EU wouldn’t hesitate to use the legal remedies in the Withdrawal Agreement if the UK refused to amend the legislation.
The legal threat doesn’t seem to be shaking the UK government as Mr Johnson has refused to step back on the Bill, with Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove saying the legislation would remain as it is.
However, the Bill is currently being scrutinised by hundreds of peers in the House of Lords. A showdown in the upper chamber is scheduled for Nov. 9, with peers considering voting on amendments during the committee stage.
Although, this could bring Boris Johnson into a new phase of crisis with proposals to scrap the offending clauses that would compromise international law, with the expectation the government will be easily defeated if it is allowed.