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The Prime Minister’s stance on the Internal Market Bill could risk creating early tensions with US President-elect Joe Biden. Mr Biden warned during his successful campaign against Donald Trump that a trade deal with the US was “contingent” on the prevention of a return to a hard border on the island of Ireland post-Brexit. Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged the US President-elect to look at his own country’s domestic problems before interfering in the Brexit negotiations.
He told Channel 4 News: “It’s nothing to do with them and we will get on with our legislation.
“We are a sovereign nation, that’s what we voted for.
“And therefore sovereign nations have the right to be sovereign.”
He added: “If I was Joe Biden, I would look to his own domestic problems rather than ours.”
Asked whether that was a “polite bat out” directed at the US President-elect, Sir Iain said: “You can take it as you wish.”
Mr Johnson has insisted that the Bill is designed to “protect and uphold the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process in Northern Ireland”.
Mr Biden, who is proud of his Irish heritage, has warned the agreement cannot “become a casualty of Brexit”.
It comes as peers moved to strip controversial clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill that would enable ministers to break international laws.
The Lords voted 433 to 165, majority 268, to reject law-breaking powers after fierce criticism by Tory former leader Michael Howard and Tory ex-chancellor Ken Clarke.
The Government immediately responded by insisting it would not back down.
A Government spokesperson said: “We are disappointed that the House of Lords has voted to remove clauses from the UK Internal Market Bill, which was backed in the House of Commons by 340 votes to 256 and delivers on a clear Conservative manifesto commitment.
“We will re-table these clauses when the Bill returns to the Commons.
“We’ve been consistently clear that the clauses represent a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market and the huge gains of the peace process.
“We expect the House of Lords to recognise that we have an obligation to the people of Northern Ireland to make sure they continue to have unfettered access to the UK under all circumstances.”
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Peers went on to inflict a further defeat on the Government by 407 votes to 148, majority 259, stripping out a further contentious clause relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
All other controversial provisions were removed without votes.
Labour’s leader in the House of Lords, Baroness Angela Smith said: “I am sure some in government will initially react with bravado and try to dismiss tonight’s historic votes in the Lords. To do so, however, would underestimate the genuine and serious concerns across the UK and beyond about ministers putting themselves above and beyond the rule of law.
“The Government should see sense, accept the removal of these offending clauses, and start to rebuild our international reputation.”
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