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The Attorney General has faced calls to resign as she defended controversial Brexit legislation which enables the UK to break international law. Suella Braverman told MPs it is “entirely proper, entirely constitutional and lawful in domestic law” to enact legislation that may operate in breach of international law or treaty obligations. It comes as Boris Johnson agreed to change the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill in order to give MPs a vote before the Government can use powers which would breach the Brexit divorce deal.
Ms Braverman said: “It’s a pretty basic principle of law and if the honourable gentleman is having trouble understanding, I’d be very happy to sit down and explain it to him.”
Ms Braverman was replying to Mr McDonald, who accused her of “putting her political loyalties, her Brexit fanaticism ahead of her loyalty to the rule of law, when it should be the other way round”.
Mr McDonald added: “That is why she should resign.”
The United Kingdom Internal Market Bill gives the Government the power to breach the Brexit divorce deal brokered with Brussels last year, with ministers arguing this is needed to protect the relationship between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Ms Braverman insisted she is “proud” to support the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill and suggested those MPs who voted against it are unpatriotic.
The Bill gives the Government the power to breach the Brexit divorce deal brokered with Brussels last year.
Ministers have argued such powers to override the Withdrawal Agreement are needed to protect the relationship between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
Critics of the measures include Conservative former prime minister Theresa May, who warned the controversial powers are not necessary and will cause “untold damage” to the UK and threaten the future of the Union.
Speaking in the Commons, Conservative former minister Sir Desmond Swayne asked: “So it doesn’t break any law, does it?”
Ms Braverman replied: “Consideration of and voting for this Bill does not constitute a breach of the law.
“However, there are powers in the Bill which if and when exercised will operate to disapply treaty obligations at the international law level – in particular, article 4 of the Withdrawal Agreement and articles 5 and 10 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Parliamentary supremacy means it is entirely constitutional and proper for Parliament to enact legislation even if it breaches international treaty obligations.”
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For Labour, shadow solicitor general Ellie Reeves earlier highlighted criticism from former prime ministers, including Mrs May.
Ms Reeves asked: “Are they all wrong?”
Ms Braverman replied: “The question of whether in law the Government can act in this way is very simply answered – yes it can.
“The question of whether it should is one for political debate, not legal argument.
“Ms Reeves)may not like that answer but it is one founded on a robust legal footing.”
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