18th Sep, 2020

Redditch MP Rachel Maclean votes in favour of Boris' controversial Brexit bill

Harry Leach 15th Sep, 2020 Updated: 15th Sep, 2020

REDDITCH MP Rachel Maclean voted in favour of the controversial Internal Market Bill last night, claiming she was honouring the result of the referendum.

The proposed legislation put forward by the Government has come under fire as it reneges on the EU Withdrawal Bill and breaches international law.

Critics say backtracking on a legally binding treaty would harm the UK’s reputation and global standing.

On the other hand Prime Minister Boris Johnson say it contains vital safeguards to protect Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, if negotiations on a future trade deal break down.

He claimed last night that the EU’s current approach could lead to excessive checks and even tariffs on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Mrs Maclean was among the 328 Conservative MPs who backed Mr Johnson over the proposals which could see the Government tear up parts of its own Brexit deal, despite claiming it to be ‘oven-ready’ before the last General Election.

The Government, which has a sizeable Tory majority, won an initial vote on passing the bill to the next stage by 340 to 263.

It has attracted major criticism from 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.

Former Chancellor and Home Secretary Sajid Javid said before the vote that breaking international law is ‘a step that should never be taken lightly’.

A key part of the Withdrawal Agreement is the agreement Northern Ireland will continue to follow some EU rules to prevent a hard border between the country and the Republic of Ireland.

But the latest bill would go against that international treaty, throwing out agreed rules relating to Northern Ireland if there is no trade deal with the EU – and time is running out.

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.

If it undid sections of the Northern Ireland Protocol, the Government would break international law 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 said: “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 parliamentary hurdle it is expected to be heavily criticised in the House of Lords.

MPs will begin detailed scrutiny of the bill on Tuesday.

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