On the Kay Burley Show this morning, Priti Patel appeared to contradict Brandon Lewis’ famous admission that the Internal Market Bill “does break international law in a specific and limited way”. The Home Secretary instead claimed that “we are absolutely not doing that”. To compound matters, the Internal Market Bill rebel Bob Neill, who originally asked Brandon the question, that started this mess, yesterday himself intervened on Ed Miliband to argue the Bill itself does not break international law until the provisions “come into force”. Got that?
Yesterday Boris insisted that “the passing of this Bill does not constitute the exercise of these powers”, emphasising that the powers that if exercised could breach international law would only be used as a very last resort. So it appears the Government is now saying Brandon Lewis mis-spoke last week…
To add yet more confusion into the mix, Advocate General for Scotland Lord Keen advanced what Guido revealed was the ERG analysis of the situation, telling the Lords’ EU committee that in the event the powers were exercised, the UK would “not be acting in breach of the treaties” if they followed what the UK perceived to be a breach of good faith by the EU. One thing’s for certain – the Government does not agree with last week’s viral line “this does break international law”.
UPDATE: Government spokesman gets in touch:
“Last week the Attorney General wrote to Select Committee chairs to set out the government’s legal position on the Withdrawal Agreement and the provisions in the UKIM Bill. This position has not changed. This is about creating a legal safety net and taking the powers in reserve whereby Minister can act to guarantee the integrity of the UK and protect the peace process.”
Guido can’t get anyone to tell me if Brandon or Priti are right. Logically they can’t both be right.