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Tensions have flared between the EU and the UK this week after Boris Johnson unveiled legislation that would breach the Brexit withdrawal deal. Despite emergency talks between the two sides yesterday, the UK Government has rejected EU demands to scrap the legislation that Brussels deems a “clear breach” of the deal signed in January. Leading Conservative MP Steve Baker urged Boris Johnson “to repudiate” the withdrawal agreement deal because of the European Union’s “bad faith” in the talks.
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Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Mr Baker said: “The reality is we are in a bad place because of a series of very poor decisions, not least the decision to accept the EU’s sequencing.
“The good news is that there is a solution in our grasp.
“If we would just agree a free trade agreement that both sides have said they want, together with the prosperity UK border arrangements, then we can just get on and move on.”
BBC host Nick Robinson followed this up: “Do you think saying that we are prepared to breach international law was a terrible error like Michael Howard, or was it inevitable to get the EU to concentrate?”
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Mr Baker responded: “I think the handling was wrong but I think we should now be willing to repudiate the whole treaty on the basis of the EU’s bad faith, which in my mind is in no doubt.”
This echoes a similar argument from Nigel Farage, who urged Boris Johnson to “ditch the Withdrawal Agreement as it currently stands”.
Writing for Express.co.uk, Mr Farage said: “The fact that Boris Johnson and David Frost now appear be standing up for national sovereignty means, as a simple matter of fact, that they have to tell Michel Barnier that large parts of the withdrawal agreement must be removed.”
Following Thursday’s crisis talks, both sides agreed to continue trade talks, even though Brussels has since threatened legal action against Britain.
Senior cabinet minister Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, vowed the UK “would not and could not” agree to the EU’s demand to drop the legislation.
The UK Internal Market Bill, published on Wednesday, seeks to alter key elements of the withdrawal agreement that Boris Johnson signed with Brussels earlier this year.
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic told Mr Gove in a meeting on Thursday that the withdrawal agreement was a “legal obligation” and that the EU “expects the letter and spirit of this agreement to be fully respected”.
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He added that violating the terms of the withdrawal agreement would “break international law, undermine trust and put at risk the ongoing future relationship negotiations”.
Boris Johnson’s proposed Internal Market Bill, which will be formally debated by MPs in the House of Commons for the first time on Monday
Furious Tory backbench MPs have launched a bid to amend the new law in revolt against the Government.
UK chief negotiator David Frost said “significant” differences remained over a free trade deal, but added discussions would continue in Brussels next week.
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