Former Attorney General Geoffrey Cox has said he will vote against the government’s attempts to override the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement when it is presented to the House of Commons.
He accused Boris Johnson of causing “unacceptable” damage to Britain’s international reputation.
The Internal Market Bill would run counter to the deal signed by the UK and the EU earlier this year.
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said the bill was an “insurance policy”.
Mr Buckland told the BBC he hoped the powers ministers sought were never needed and that he would step down if the UK ended up breaking international law “in a way that I find unacceptable”.
Mr Cox supported Brexit and was the government’s main legal adviser in crafting the Withdrawal Agreement.
In The Times, Mr Cox said there was “no doubt” that the “unpleasant” implications of the Withdrawal Agreement were known when the Prime Minister signed it.
“We, the UK government and parliament, have given our word. Our honor, our credibility, our self-respect and our future influence in the world all depend on our keeping our word, ”Cox wrote.
He said there were legal ways for the government to deal with his concerns, such as using a procedure set out in the agreement to take “temporary and proportional measures” to protect the interests of the Kingdom. United if approved by the Commons.
“What ministers should not do, however provoked or frustrated they may feel, is take or use powers permanently and unilaterally to rewrite parts of an agreement in which this country has freely entered into it. just a few months ago, ”he added.
The UK has insisted that there should be no new controls on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Britain when it leaves the single market and the customs union of the United Kingdom. EU January 1.
The Northern Ireland Protocol, a key part of the Withdrawal Agreement signed by the two sides last year, is designed to prevent the return of a hard border to the island of Ireland.
The Home Market Bill would give ministers the power to reduce the amount of paperwork North Irish businesses have to fill out for goods going to Britain, such as export and exit declarations, or to completely remove their need.
It would also allow the UK to modify or reinterpret the “state aid” rules on grants to Northern Ireland businesses, in the event the two sides disagree on a future trade deal.
It is controversial because it would change the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, a crucial part of the legally binding withdrawal agreement the two sides reached ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU on January 31.
The government’s intentions have drawn much criticism, with former prime ministers Tony Blair and Sir John Major accusing the prime minister of “embarrassing” the UK.
The former rulers were in office during key periods in the Northern Ireland peace process.
Both MPs urged MPs to reject the “shameful” attempt to bypass parts of the deal, writing in The Sunday Times that the government’s actions were “irresponsible, wrong in principle and dangerous in practice”.
The EU has warned the UK it could face legal action if it does not drop controversial elements of the Internal Market bill by the end of the month.
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