David Cameron today became the fifth former prime minister to speak out about the government’s controversial plan to breach the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has come under fire for his proposed Internal Market Bill, which is due to come before MPs this afternoon.
In a statement this morning Cameron said he had “misgivings” about the planned legislation, adding that it should be an “absolute final resort”.
“Passing an act of parliament and then going on to break an international treaty obligation is the very, very last thing you should contemplate,” he said.
Cameron’s prolonged silence has not gone unnoticed, with many commentators pointing out over the weekend that he was the only former living prime minister not to have spoken about the bill.
Last week Theresa May launched stinging criticism of the government’s claim that the Brexit bill would break international law in a “very limited and specific way”.
Meanwhile, former chancellor and PM Gordon Brown denounced the government’s actions as hypocritical.
He said: “If I had done that when I was prime minister the Conservatives would have accused me of breaching the rule of law.
“They would have thrown everything at us and said that you cannot ignore an international treaty that you signed only a few weeks ago and you negotiated.”
And yesterday former prime ministers Sir John Major and Tony Blair urged the government to reconsider its “irresponsible” internal market bill.
Pressure on Johnson to scrap the plans mounted this morning after attorney general Geoffrey Cox also waded into the debate.
“It is wrong for the British Government to renege on something to which we have given our solemn word,” he told Times Radio.
“I strongly sympathise with the desire of the government. But what I don’t think it can do is to break the law.”
Cox’s intervention comes after he confirmed he will not be voting with the government in the second reading of the internal market bill this afternoon.
Tory MPs have lined up to support the former attorney general.
Simon Hoare, Tory chairman of the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, said: ‘Geoffrey is a man for whom respect for the Rule of Law (and its defence) is paramount.
“His intervention cannot be overlooked, ignored or swatted away.”
He added: “As a committed Brexiter he should remain an important lightening rod.”