A senior UK politician told the country’s parliament on September 8 that proposed legislation related to Brexit “does break international law in a very specific and limited way.”
Asked for assurances that the UK’s Internal Market bill, which was due to be published the following day, did not violate international obligations, Brandon Lewis, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, replied, "I would say to my honourable friend that, yes, this does break international law in a very specific and limited way.
“We’re taking the power to disapply the EU law concept of direct effect required by Article 4 in certain very tightly defined circumstances,” he said.
“There are clear precedents for the UK, and indeed other countries, needing to consider their international obligations as circumstances change. And I would say to honourable members here, many of whom would have been in this house when we passed the Finance Act in 2013 which contains an example of treaty override. It contains provisions that expressly disapply international tax treaties to the extent that these conflicted with the general anti-abuse rule.
“And I would say to my honourable friend we are determined to ensure we are delivering on the agreement we have in the protocol and our leading priority is to do that through the negotiations and through the joint committee work. The clauses which will be in the bill tomorrow are specifically there for should that fail to ensure that we are able to deliver on our commitments to the people of Northern Ireland,” Lewis said.
Lewis was responding to a question from his Conservative Party colleague Robert Neill, who asked for assurances that nothing in the bill “does, or potentially might breach, international legal obligations or international legal arrangements that we have entered into.”
The legislation comes amid ongoing tensions and negotiations between the UK and the European Union over Brexit. Credit: UK Parliament via Storyful