REDDITCH MP Rachel Maclean has been lambasted as a ‘career politician’ on social media after voting in favour of the controversial Internal Market Bill.
But the 54-year-old Conservative MP claimed she was simply honouring the result of the referendum and that the bill ‘guarantees the integrity of the UK’.
Mrs Maclean, who was among the 328 Conservative MPs who backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson over the proposals, was told on social media that she and her colleagues have acted shamefully.
The proposed legislation could see this Tory Government tear up parts of its own Brexit deal, despite the Party claiming the deal was ‘oven-ready’ leading up to the last General Election.
Critics say the bill reneges on the EU Withdrawal Bill and breaches international law. And backtracking on a legally binding treaty would harm the UK’s reputation and global standing.
Senior figures in the Conservative Party and former prime ministers Theresa May, David Cameron, Sir John Major and Labour’s Tony Blair and Gordon Brown have heavily condemned the bill.
Former Chancellor Sajid Javid said earlier this week that breaking international law is ‘a step that should never be taken lightly’.
The Internal Market Bill would give UK ministers powers to waive customs paperwork on trade between Northern Ireland (NI) and Great Britain, define which goods entering NI are liable for tariffs in event of no deal and ignore EU state aid rules.
The Government would break international law if it undid sections of the Northern Ireland Protocol, as the document is part of the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement it only signed with the European Union in January.
Speaking on the vote Mrs Maclean told the Standard: “I share people’s unease over the use of these powers.
“But the Prime Minister has been clear that he has no desire to use these measures.
“They are simply an insurance policy. If we reach an agreement with the EU before the deadline, which I still believe is possible, then these powers will never be used.
“It’s worth pointing out that the passing of this bill does not constitute the exercise of these powers.
“If they were ever needed, ministers would return to the House of Commons to ask for Parliamentary approval to invoke these powers.”
Mrs Maclean added that it’s always been her first preference to leave the Brexit transition period with a Free Trade Agreement in place.
“Unfortunately in recent months the EU has suggested it is ready to go to extreme and unreasonable lengths by using the Northern Ireland Protocol in a way that goes well beyond common sense, simply to exert leverage against the UK in our negotiations for a free trade agreement.”
Mr Johnson says the bill contains vital safeguards to protect Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, if negotiations on a future trade deal do break down.
He claimed in the Commons on Monday that the EU’s current approach could lead to excessive checks and tariffs on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
Mrs Maclean added: “I pledged to respect the result of the referendum and I have held true to that.
“I voted for this bill to protect our rights as a sovereign country to trade freely within our Union. This bill is vital for us to protect our country’s integrity.”
While the bill passed the first parliamentary hurdle it is expected to be heavily scrutinised by MPs.
RACHEL MACLEAN FULL STATEMENT:
“There has been a lot of talk this week about the Internal Market Bill, and I want to explain to you why I voted for the Second Reading of this Bill.
I did so in order to give the Government a strong negotiating position to secure a deal which is in the interests of both sides.
October 15th is the deadline for negotiations.
It’s always been my first preference we leave the transition period with a Free Trade Agreement in place.
When we renegotiated our Withdrawal Agreement from the EU, we struck a careful balance to reflect Northern Ireland’s integral place in the UK.
In good faith we accepted certain obligations in the Northern Ireland Protocol in order to give the EU the assurances they sought on the integrity of their single market while avoiding any change to the border.
The EU agreed Northern Ireland would remain part of the customs territory of the UK, able to benefit from the free trade deals with other countries which we are now beginning to strike.
However, unfortunately in recent months the EU has suggested it is ready to go to extreme and unreasonable lengths by using the Northern Ireland Protocol in a way that goes well beyond common sense, simply to exert leverage against the UK in our negotiations for a free trade agreement.
The EU has said if we fail to reach an agreement to their satisfaction, they might refuse to list the UK’s food and agricultural products for sale anywhere in the EU.
This would then, under the Protocol, create an instant and automatic prohibition of the transfer of our animal products from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
This is unacceptable.
The EU is essentially holding out the possibility of blockading food and agricultural transports within our own country.
Therefore, what we are seeking to do through this Bill is to protect this country against the EU’s proven willingness to use this delicately balanced Protocol in ways for which it was never intended.
This Bill includes our first step to protect our country against such a contingency by creating a legal safety net, taking powers in reserve – whereby Ministers can act to guarantee the integrity of our UK.“