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The Internal Market Bill empowers the UK Government to override international treaty obligations but is designed to “protect jobs and trade” according to the Government. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide to explain what the UK Internal Market Bill actually is and what it is prompted so much backlash from MPs.
What is the Internal Market Bill?
According to the Gov.uk website, the Internal Market Bill is a “Bill introduced to protect trade and jobs across the UK by preventing new burdens on business when the Transition Period ends.”
The Bill, introduced on September 9, seeks to transfer powers from the European Union to the UK at the end of the Brexit transition period.
The legislation will allow the UK Government to “provide financial assistance to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland with new powers to spend taxpayers’ money previously administered by the EU”.
One of the main aims of the legislation is to empower UK ministers to pass regulations, specifically regarding trade and state aid.
The bill aims to create common rules that apply across the whole of the UK which essentially replaces the EU’s role as the ultimate arbiter of most trade policies.
The legislation outlines how ministers could breach international law when passing regulations, such as what has been already outlined in the Withdrawal Agreement under what is known as the Northern Ireland protocol.
The 58-page document makes clear the UK would be empowered to override parts of the EU’s legal divorce bill which came into effect on January 31, 2020.
The draft legislation reads: “Certain provisions to have effect notwithstanding inconsistency or incompatibility with international or other domestic law.”
The legislation clarifies “all rights, powers, liabilities, obligations, restrictions, remedies and procedures which are, in accordance with section 7A of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018” will be “recognised and available in domestic law” which refers to the general implementation of the remainder of the withdrawal agreement.
The Internal Market Bill enables ministers to override any “relevant international or domestic law” including:
- Any provision of the Northern Ireland protocol
- Any other provision the EU withdrawal agreement
- Any other EU law or international law
- Any provision of the European Communities Act 1972
- Any provision of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018
- Any retained EU law or relevant separation agreement law
- Any other legislation, convention or rule of international or domestic law whatsoever, including any order, judgment or decision of the European Court or of any other court or tribunal.
You can read the legislation in full here.
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In addition, the Bill proposes to bring forward legislation which would enshrine “mutual recognition and non-discrimination”.
Essentially according to the draft legislation, mutual recognition is defined in the Bill is ensuring goods, services and qualifications can be sold or used in one part of the UK can also be in another part, with some exceptions in Northern Ireland.
Non-discrimination laws make it unlawful for any of the four British nations to introduce laws which favour goods or services in any one part of the UK over another.
The Bill also outlines how Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh will be empowered to create its own laws in 160 policy areas once the transition period has come to an end.
An essential and highly contentious part of the Internal Market Bill is the Northern Ireland protocol which aims to avoid the introduction of a hard border on the island of Ireland in the case of a no-deal Brexit at the end of this year.
The new Bill mandates Northern Ireland remain part of the UK’s customs territory meaning if the UK signed any free trade agreement, such as that agreed in principle with Japan last week, northern Irish goods would be included.
However, Northern Ireland must adhere to some EU rules to enable goods to move freely into the Republic of Ireland.
Several Conservative Party MPs are expected to rebel against the BIll as it is debated on today (September 14).
After the legislation was published, President of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “Very concerned about announcements from the British government on its intentions to breach the Withdrawal Agreement.
“This would break international law and undermines trust. Pacta sunt servanda = the foundation of prosperous future relations.”
The European Council president Charles Michel said the move is unacceptable.
Mr Michel tweeted: “The Withdrawal agreement was concluded and ratified by both sides, it has to be applied in full.
“Breaking international law is not acceptable and does not create the confidence we need to build our future relationship #Brexit”.
All former living prime ministers including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Sir John Major, Theresa May and David Cameron, have also spoken out against the Government’s proposals.
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