U.K. holds crisis talks with EU as Pelosi warns on Brexit Bill

Britain held emergency talks with the European Union on Thursday, facing warnings of legal action over a new Brexit Bill and a threatening reminder of its obligations to Northern Ireland from leading U.S. Democrat Nancy Pelosi.

Warnings redoubled too within the ranks of the governing Conservative party as former Prime Mnister John Major, who helped lay the foundations for Northern Irish peace in the 1990s, said his successor Boris Johnson risked trashing the U.K.’s global reputation.

“If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained,” Major said, after the government conceded that the proposed new legislation would breach an EU withdrawal treaty in the countdown to a full Brexit divorce.

European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic headed to London demanding “clarifications” over the new U.K. Internal Market Bill.

“I came here to express serious concerns the European Union has over the proposed bill,” Mr. Sefcovic told reporters before starting the meeting with his counterpart on a UK-EU joint committee, Michael Gove.

The Bill would give British Ministers unilateral powers to regulate trade among England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, once the force of EU law expires after a post-Brexit transition period at the end of this year.

But under the EU withdrawal treaty, Britain is meant to liaise with Brussels on arrangements for Northern Ireland, which will have the UK’s only land border with the EU, and where 30 years of bloodshed ended with a peace deal in 1998.

Legal options

EU diplomats have ridiculed Downing Street’s argument that the EU treaty was written “at pace” and contained problems relating to a protocol on Northern Ireland.

More immediately, the EU’s executive commission circulated a paper setting out legal options against London, including recourse to the European Court of Justice.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 4:51:36 AM |

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