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Germany’s Europe Minister Michael Roth said the Internal Market Bill passed by MPs yesterday would “massively violate” the UK-EU withdrawal agreement. In an open letter, he said a failure to reach an agreement would be a “huge disappointment” but the 27 member states were “well prepared” for a potential no-deal Brexit.
Mr Roth described how trust between the EU and the UK had “suffered a lot recently” but called for “urgency” to find solutions.
The EU and UK met in Brussels yesterday in a bid to move talks on from a deadlock, discussing fishing rights, governance and state aid.
The German politician cited a key aim of the Withdrawal Agreement as the preservation of peace across Ireland and Northern Ireland.
But Britain’s Internal Market Bill will allow UK power to dismiss part of the treaty dealing with trade to and from the north.
MPs passed the Internal Market Bill through the House of Commons by 340 votes to 256 and it will now go to the House of Lords.
Mr Roth said: “The UK internal market bill would massively violate key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement.
“The Withdrawal Agreement – an international treaty, mind you – was negotiated and signed only nine months ago. And now you are calling it into question again?
“The EU cannot and will not accept this approach. It is casting a dark shadow over the ongoing negotiations.
“Apart from anything else, what are our friends in Ireland supposed to think, after we made jointly agreed, special arrangements for the border on the island of Ireland with the intention of preserving peace in Northern Ireland.
“To recklessly jeopardize that historic achievement would send a disastrous message.”
Mr Roth said a fair deal would be possible if both Britain and the EU showed a willingness to compromise but added the EU was well prepared if it came to a no-deal Brexit.
He added: “It is not helpful to play games.
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“The kind of deal we are after has no winners and losers. What we need now is that much-vaunted British pragmatism of which we were always a little envious.
“Winston Churchill was right when he said: ‘You must look at facts because they look at you’. And the facts speak for themselves. Whether it’s the coronavirus pandemic or the climate crisis, no country can shoulder the global tests we are facing on its own.
“Particularly at a time when our system is in brutal competition with authoritarianism and the post-coronavirus world looks set to become even more uncomfortable, we need each other as reliable and trustworthy partners more than ever.”
The government believes the Internal Market Bill will help protect the UK but Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and the EU argue fear it could damage the country’s reputation.
Sir John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May have criticised the bill.
Sir John and Mr Blair described it as a “shameful” attempt to override parts of the Withdrawal Agreement.
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