Kit Malthouse admits Government could be breaking international law with plans to override Brexit treaty – Evening Standard


A Home Office minister has admitted that the Government could be breaking international law with their plans to override the Brexit treaty.

The Prime Minister is facing a revolt from Tory MPs over plans that would allow him to renege on parts of his Brexit deal, with his former attorney-general Geoffrey Cox accusing him of risking undermining “the standing and reputation of Britain in the world” by breaching international law.

Asked if he thought the UK could be breaking international law, Minister for Crime and Policing Kit Malthouse told Sky News: “It could in theory and there’s precedent for that around the world…Canada breached international treaties when it legalised cannabis.

“There are often these situations that occur where countries face very very difficult circumstances and this is one of them.”

Pressed on the law, Mr Malthouse replied: “If you’re preventing serious injury, if my child was going to be seriously injured and I had to break the law to stop it then obviously I would.”

Asked if that was a reasonable comparison, he added: “I’m just saying there are circumstances where countries have been presented with this situation in international law in the past and they have gone ahead recognising that their own domestic situation demands something different than that is predicated in an international agreement.”

Boris Johnson is facing a revolt from Tory MPs over the UK Internal Market Bill (AP)

Mr Malthouse claimed the EU had not been willing to confirm whether the UK would be classed as a third country which could leave the country in a position where food exports from Great Britain to Northern Ireland would be illegal.

He also said he would vote for the UK Internal Market Bill even if it breaks international law, telling BBC Breakfast: “I’ll be voting for the bill because I don’t believe that if that circumstance should arise, where food is prevented from moving from GB to Northern Ireland, that the Prime Minister has any choice but to take powers to allow Tesco to stock the shelves in Belfast.”

Asked if he would do so even if it broke international law, the Tory MP added: “I will be voting for the bill this afternoon, yes.”

Mr Cox has written in the Times today accusing the PM of doing “unconscionable” damage to Britain’s international reputation and saying he could not support efforts to overwrite the withdrawal agreement in the Commons.

He added: “When the Queen’s minister gives his word, on her behalf, it should be axiomatic that he will keep it, even if the consequences are unpalatable.

“No British minister should solemnly undertake to observe treaty obligations with his fingers crossed behind his back.”

Former prime ministers Tony Blair and John Major have urged MPs to reject Boris Johnson’s attempt to override parts of the UK’s Brexit deal through their Internal Markets Bill [UKIM].

“We both opposed Brexit. We both accept it is now happening. But this way of negotiating, with reason cast aside in pursuit of ideology and cavalier bombast posing as serious diplomacy, is irresponsible, wrong in principle and dangerous in practice,” they said in an article for the Sunday Times.

Commons justice committee chairman Sir Bob Neill has tabled an amendment which he said would impose a “parliamentary lock” on any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.

In the House of Lords, a series of grandees, including Brexiteers such as Lord Howard and ex-chancellor Lord Lamont, have also savaged the UKIM Bill.

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