Wednesday 16 September 2020 6:34 pm

Boris Johnson sees off potential Tory rebellion on Brexit bill

Boris Johnson has quelled a potential Tory backbench rebellion next week by agreeing to give MPs a final say on a controversial Brexit bill that could breach the Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Downing Street put out a statement today to say it would amend its Internal Market Bill, which is going through parliament this week, to ensure its most controversial elements relating to Brexit cannot be enacted without further support from the House of Commons.

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The amendment will stop a potential humiliation for Johnson in the House of Commons, after a growing number of Tory backbenchers had pledged to vote against the government in a vote on the bill next Monday.

The bill contains clauses that would be activated if the UK leaves the EU’s single market and customs union on 31 December without striking a trade deal with Brussels.

The clauses would see the UK override parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement – primarily relating to the flow of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland – and therefore break international law.

Tory backbench MP Sir Bob Neill had an amendment to the bill asking for MPs to give the bill a final tick-off later this year in the event that no trade deal was struck between the UK and EU.

A number of Tory MPs, including ex-chancellor Sajid Javid, had said they would vote for the amendment, with Johnson at risk of losing a House of Commons vote despite his 80-seat majority.

However, the Prime Minister has brokered a deal with Neill to include his amendment in the bill.

Downing Street said in a statement: “Following talks, it is agreed that the parliamentary procedure suggested by some colleagues provides a clearer, more explicit democratic mandate for the use of these powers, and also provides more legal certainty.

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“The government will table another amendment which sets clear limits on the scope and timeliness of judicial review into the exercise of these powers. This will provide people and businesses with the certainty that they need.

“We welcome the way the parliamentary party has come together on these issue.”

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