Prime Minister Boris Johnson is accusing the EU of trying to disrupt the ‘territorial integrity’ of the UK with a ‘blockade’ in the Irish Sea.
Mr Johnson insists the legislation – which will override parts of the Withdrawal agreement he signed last year – is required to end EU threats to install a “blockade” in the Irish Sea. The move has caused considerable disquiet in Westminster, not least among his own backbenchers, with Bob Neill, MP for Bromley and Chislehurst, putting forward an amendment which would effectively veto the Bill.
He said Brussels could ‘carve up our country’ and ‘seriously endanger peace and stability’ in Northern Ireland if Tory MPs are not able to back disputed legislation to override parts of his Brexit deal.
Mr Johnson is working to quell a plan to amend the bill from senior Tories – who are incensed that it could break international law by flouting the Withdrawal Agreement.
Mr Johnson has hosted a conference call with backbenchers on Friday evening to win backing for the Bill that caused Brussels to threaten legal action – and reportedly warned senior Conservatives against going ‘back to the miserable, squabbling days of last autumn’.
The EU has said the move is a serious breach of trust and has threatened to take legal action if Mr Johnson does not alter the UK Internal Market Bill by the end of the month.
The Prime Minister has doubled down and argued it is ‘crucial for peace and for the Union itself’ and said voting it down would reduce the chances of a trade deal with the EU.
Taking it to Telegraph, Mr Johnson claimed the block would to impose “a full-scale trade border down the Irish sea” which could stop the transport of food from Britain to Northern Ireland.
He added: “I have to say that we never seriously believed that the EU would be willing to use a treaty, negotiated in good faith, to blockade one part of the UK, to cut it off.
“Or that they would actually threaten to destroy the economic and territorial integrity of the UK.”
Negotiators led by David Frost had learned there “may be a serious misunderstanding about the terms” of the deal Mr Johnson signed in October.
Mr Johnson claimed the Withdrawal Agreement had been agreed during “torrid” days with the Brexit deadline fast approaching while “negotiating with one hand tied behind our back” as a result of Parliament blocking a no-deal.
He added: “If we fail to pass this bill, or if we weaken its protections, then we will in fact reduce the chances of getting that Canada-style deal.”