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Amid the controversy surrounding the bill, the BBC’s Katya Adler has revealed Brexit talks have become “messy” as the two sides work towards a deal. EU officials have expressed specific concern over the violation of certain elements of the withdrawal agreement due to the Internal Market Bill. Commenting on the negotiations, the BBC reporter said: “1st: EU is taken aback (polite description) about government plans for Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in Internal Mkt Bill + gov admission it breaks international law.
“2nd: Gov says: ‘Worry not. We’ll only use if we have to.
“We’ll use bilateral arbitration means first’.
“3rd: EU said at the beginning of week: trust in government was diminishing.
“This is getting messier.
“And Yet: informal EU-UK trade talks continue in parallel.
“EU diplomats say still hope deal can be struck, getting rid of concerns re food imports/exports GB-NI amongst other advantages.”
The crucial element of the bill is in its relation to state aid.
Under the Northern Ireland protocol, EU state aid would be applied to Northern Ireland.
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However, the Internal Market Bill would allow the Secretary of State to determine what level of state aid is reported to the EU.
UK ministers would also be able to modify custom exit declaration for goods entering Great Britain from Northern Ireland, thus disregarding the protocol.
Some UK officials have also expressed concern the Northern Ireland peace process would be under threat due to the imposition of the new legislation.
Despite these fears, the UK Government maintained the bill is to maintain trade between the four nations.
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Mr Johnson also stated the legislation is needed to maintain the integrity of the UK.
However, speaking today, EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen stated no element of the withdrawal agreement can be changed.
In her State of the Union address, she added the chance of signing a Brexit deal is becoming less likely.
She 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.”
In response to the criticism from the EU, Justice Secretary, Robert Buckland the new legislation is only intended if the EU reneges on certain obligations within the treaty.
He said: “If we reach that stage, the reason for it is because we judge that sadly, despite everybody’s best efforts, the EU is in a position where we think they are actually breaching their obligations to us.
“I would like to avoid that, I think we can, but we do need to just prepare for that contingency, that ‘break glass in case of emergency’ provision, which I believe this is.”
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