Green Party Brexit Speaker and former MEP Molly Scott Cato has responded forcefully to the suggestion that the government might override the agreement reached with the EU less than a year ago.
It is feared that a new government Bill – the Internal Market Bill – set to be published on Wednesday could override the Northern Ireland Protocol in the EU Withdrawal Agreement which was drawn up to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
The protocol states that Northern Ireland will follow certain EU customs rules, such as checks on goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, once the transition period is over.
However, this arrangement could be threatened by the government Bill, which is designed to protect trade conditions between the four nations of the UK. While the government has said it is committed to the protocol, in the event that a free trade deal cannot be agreed with the EU, then it could decide to diverge with the EU on how it is implemented.
Critics of the government’s announcement fear that overriding the Withdrawal Agreement, which was arduously negotiated over the past three years, would damage the UK’s international reputation and threaten peace in Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the news, Scott Cato said: “The government’s suggestion that it might renege on the Withdrawal Agreement reached less than a year ago is an indication of shocking bad faith that puts the fragile Northern Ireland peace process and our international reputation at risk.
‘The threat to rip up such an international treaty risks condemning us to a future as a pariah state and severely limits the number of countries that would want to do business with ‘Global Britain’.
‘The Withdrawal Agreement is also the legal basis of citizens’ rights for both British citizens making their lives in the UK and EU citizens who are part of our communities here in the UK. They need to be reassured that their rights will continue to be protected and we need both sides to state clearly and immediately their commitment to the mutual agreement on citizens’ rights.
‘The Green Party opposed Brexit because of the risk it posed to people rights, to environmental protections and to our economy. This latest low in the government’s negotiating strategy proves that the Tories won the general election on a lie. There never was an oven-ready deal. Now we risk No Deal, something the vast majority of British people understand would be hugely damaging to jobs and wellbeing.”