Senior MEP takes aim at UK government over Internal Market Bill

Greens/EFA vice-chair Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield has condemned the UK government for refusing to comply with the House of Lords vote and remove the offending parts of the Brexit legislation.

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

12 Nov 2020

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson says he is undeterred after the UK House of Lords earlier this week voted overwhelmingly to remove measures that seek to “disapply” parts of the Northern Ireland protocol; measures that US President-elect Joe Biden has said would put the Good Friday agreement at risk.

The UK government and senior cabinet members, including environment secretary, George Eustice and foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, have reiterated their insistence that the clauses were necessary to give domestic power over the EU if it threatened the Good Friday agreement.

Delbos-Corfield has accused Johnson of failing to respect the rule of law.

She said, “With less than fifty days to go until the end of the transition period, time is running out for the UK government. We echo our concern about the implications of a no-deal arrangement for the rights of citizens on both sides of the channel, peace and security on the island of Ireland and continued judicial cooperation.”

“At the same time, trust is in short supply. A UK government that sets out to break international law during the critical stages of EU-UK negotiations is not one that has respect for the rule of law.”

The MEP, a member of Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs, added, “In spite of our differences, we remain hopeful that sufficient progress can be made in the next ten days.”

“Trust is in short supply. A UK government that sets out to break international law during the critical stages of EU-UK negotiations is not one that has respect for the rule of law” Gwendoline Delbos-Corfield, Greens/EFA

“Political elites have sold a Brexit to the British people that they have not and will not be able to deliver. We will keep fighting for a fair, mutually beneficial future relationship with the UK.”

She went on, “However, as the Greens/EFA have always made clear  - the best deal for the UK was as a member of the EU.”

Her comments come with talks between the UK and EU continuing in London on Thursday. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has been in the UK capital all this week trying to broker a last-minute deal with his counterpart David Frost.

Several major sticking points remain, though, including fisheries, governance and the Irish border issue. The UK is due to leave the EU on 31 December and if no trade deal is agreed it will leave on what are called WTO terms.

Meanwhile, SMEunited, the body that represents small businesses at the EU level, has called on its member organisations to “step up preparatory actions” in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 31 December.

It says that with Brexit entering into force in less than fifty days, “SMEs should speed up their readiness for the new trade situation”, including new customs rules and transport requirements.

A statement said, “SMEunited voices once more concerns on the short remaining period, especially for SMEs now also affected by the pandemic.”

“SMEunited warns that many SMEs might struggle to deal with the status to come in the EU-UK relationship. For many of them, tackling the economic impact of COVID-19 remains the priority in the following months.”

It goes on, “It is important that adequate information is made accessible for SMEs to help them prepare for the end of the transition period. As of 1 January 2021, the way the UK border operates will change dramatically.”

“The end of the transition period will have major consequences for European businesses trading with the UK and vice versa. It is necessary that entrepreneurs and companies be ready for the changes in tax and customs procedures, amongst other things.”

“We encourage and support SMEs to stay informed about the steps they need to take within the fifty days ahead and to contact their national competent authorities in this respect. SMEunited is raising awareness among its membership by sharing information compiled by the European Commission.”

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