Iratxe García Pérez, who was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, said, “It is very important that international law is complied with and I hope that the UK will do this.”
“But what we have seen in statements made by Boris Johnson are totally counter to this.”
The Spanish member told reporters, “I must stress the importance of respecting the law in the context of such negotiations.”
Although the British government has a majority of 80 in the Commons, it is braced for further rebellions in the coming weeks as the legislation receives detailed scrutiny.
The new Internal Market Bill seeks to prevent disruption to trade between the four nations of the UK if no deal is reached with the EU.
“It is very important that international law is complied with and I hope that the UK will do this. But what we have seen in statements made by Boris Johnson are totally counter to this” Iratxe García Pérez, S&D Group leader
The UK government has described it as a “vital legal safety net” but, controversially, it gives the government the power to change aspects of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, a legally-binding deal governing the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU earlier this year.
The EU is incensed by the move and has given the UK a two-week deadline to withdraw the legislation, saying that it breaks international law.
The UK is currently in a period known as the transition, that keeps it bound to the EU’s rules until 31 December. The two sides are trying to negotiate a new trade deal that would come into effect once this period ends, but talks have reached a standstill.
Later on Tuesday, a European Commission spokesman, when asked about the deadline the EU has given to the UK, told reporters, “We have been in contact with the British and the Vice-President even went to London last week at very short notice in order to seek clarifications on this issue.”
“A deadline has been set for withdrawing the appropriate clauses and this is what we expect. We have made our views on this extremely clear and we will not speculate further in the meantime. We are now waiting for developments in London,” he told reporters at a news conference.
“Now it's time for Brussels to fight fire with fire and unleash a public information campaign in Britain that corrects the misleading distortions propagated by Boris Johnson’s government. Brexit clearly can't be avoided, but what's at stake is the future of EU-UK relations” Giles Merritt, founder of the Friends of Europe think tank
His comments come with talks on a trade deal due to continue in Brussels on Tuesday. Major obstacles remain, however, particularly on issues such as fisheries, a level playing field and the Irish border issue.
If no deal is reached the UK will have to leave the EU on 31 December on what are called WTO terms.
Meanwhile, Giles Merritt, founder of the Friends of Europe think tank, has urged Ursula von der Leyen’s Commission to “abandon the EU's cherished reticence and fund a hard-hitting advertising campaign to demolish the Brexiteers’ misrepresentations and downright lies.”
“Now it's time for Brussels to fight fire with fire and unleash a public information campaign in Britain that corrects the misleading distortions propagated by Boris Johnson's government. Brexit clearly can't be avoided, but what's at stake is the future of EU-UK relations.”
He added, “If Brussels is held responsible in British eyes for Brexit’s disastrous consequences, there will be no chance of repairing the rift for years to come.”