EU Chief: Brexit Deal Cannot Be 'Changed' or 'Disregarded'
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has said that the United Kingdom cannot change the Withdrawal Agreement.
Making her state of the union address at the European Parliament on Wednesday in Brussels, the head of the EU’s powerful executive arm said: “This Withdrawal Agreement took three years to negotiate, and we worked relentlessly on it line-by-line, word-by-word, and together we succeeded.
“The European Union and the UK jointly agreed that it was the best and only way for ensuring peace on the island of Ireland and we will never backtrack on that.”
“This agreement has been ratified by this house and the House of Commons. It cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded, disapplied. This is a matter of law and trust and good faith,” she added, in comments reported by ITV.
The remarks come after Prime Minister Boris Johnson introduced the Internal Market Bill to the House of Commons this week, which will override a part of the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol. The bill would be a safety net should Brussels and London fail to agree on a future trading arrangement in time for the end of the transition period on December 31st, 2020.
Critics claim the Internal Market Bill breaks international law; however, Mr Johnson has said it is necessary to stop efforts by the European Union to undermine the integrity of the United Kingdom. In its current form, the Withdrawal Agreement would result in a customs border down the Irish Sea in the event of a no-deal.
The prime minister said earlier this week: “The EU is threatening to carve tariff borders across our own country, to divide our land, to change the basic facts about the economic geography of the United Kingdom.”
He added: “We cannot have a situation where the boundaries of our country could be dictated by a foreign power or international organisation. No British Prime Minister, no Government, and no Parliament could ever accept such an imposition.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 13, 2020
Speaking to Breitbart London, Ben Harris-Quinney, the chairman of the UK’s oldest conservative think tank the Bow Group, said: “The British government does not want to have to invoke the Internal Market Bill. It is being prepared in the event the EU or devolved governments contravene the red lines of the current Withdrawal Agreement, and decide to levy unfair trade embargoes and restrictions against us that subvert our ability to operate as a unified country.
“It is absolutely the responsible course of action to prepare for such a possibility. We are acting in good faith, but we need to be prepared to take action if our EU or devolved counterparts are found at a future time not to be acting in good faith, and seeking to use Brexit to fracture the United Kingdom.”
Also during the state of the union address, Mrs von der Leyen evoked Margaret Thatcher, in an effort to rile the Johnson administration. The Eurocrat quoted the former prime minister as saying: “Britain does not break treaties. It would be bad for Britain, bad for our relations with the rest of the world and bad for any future treaty on trade.”
Responding to the remarks, Mr Harris-Quinney told this publication: “Margaret Thatcher was a great fan of democracy. The British people have voted for Brexit, and they have elected this government to deliver it, come what may.
“She would baulk at her words being twisted by an unelected bureaucrat and used to demure the will of the British government to do the job they were elected to do.”
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— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 12, 2020