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Brexit: Johnson says EU should not negotiate in good faith

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Media headlineAsked if the EU was negotiating a trade deal with the UK in good faith, Boris Johnson said: “I do not believe they are.”

Boris Johnson tells MPs that the EU should not negotiate with the UK in good faith.

The prime minister explained why he wanted to overwrite parts of the Brexit agreement signed with the EU in January.

He said that if the UK failed to accept a trade agreement, it would prevent the EU from acting “unfairly”.

Asked by Labor’s Hillary Penn if he thought the EU was negotiating in good faith, he said: “I do not believe they are.”

This contradicts Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, who has previously told parliamentarians he believes the EU is acting in good faith.

When it was placed with him, Mr Johnson said “it is always possible that I think wrong, maybe they will prove my suspicions wrong.”

Possible rebellion

Both parties have an obligation to act in good faith under Section 5 of the Return Agreement – but it is difficult to prove the absence of “good faith” or “excellent efforts” – another phrase stated in the Agreement.

The legal definition of “good faith” is stronger than generally accepted terms.

Mr Johnson told the Liaison Committee, a group of senior backbenchers, that the situation was “not what this country wants” and that “this is not what our EU friends and allies want from us”.

“So, I have every hope and expectation that it will not be the result.”

This comes as the Prime Minister seeks to stem a revolt over plans to rewrite parts of the agreement that Tory MPs will withdraw.

More than 30 Tory MPs were expected to vote to amend the domestic market bill next week.

If passed, Sir Bob Neil’s amendment would have given MPs the final say on changes to the currency devaluation deal proposed in the domestic market bill.

The prime minister has now promised to provide parliamentarians with an “extra layer of parliamentary oversight”, the BBC understands.

‘Belt and Brace’

Laura Queensberg, the BBC’s political editor, said ministers were hopeful it would prevent a revolt next week.

Mr Johnson says a domestic market bill is needed to protect the UK’s “regional integrity” if trade negotiations with the EU fail.

He described to parliamentarians the move as a “belt and brace” if there were “serious” interpretations of the EU withdrawal agreement.

He said the bill was “to ensure that friends and partners do not do something unfair.”

But it has provoked a backlash from the EU, which has threatened legal action – and could suspend trade talks – if it is not withdrawn.

Tory MP In response to a question from Sir Bob Neil’s Commons, Brandon Lewis admitted last week that the bill violates international law in a “specific and defined” way.

His words prompted the resignation of a senior government law official and condemnation from five former prime ministers, who warned that there was a threat to Britain’s reputation in upholding agreements and international law.

Many Tory MPs abstained from the bill on Monday, or voted for it – many of whom were expected to support Sir Bob Neil’s amendment next week.

‘Legal Protection Web’

Writing on paper, Sir Bob said in his amendment “the government seeks to put a parliamentary lock on the powers it seeks to give itself.”

He added: “Taking a sledgehammer for the whole bill is the wrong approach.

“It has a huge advantage, 51 of its 54 subsections, which are very harmless to the majority.

“However, the gravity of the remaining three clauses requires at least additional checks and balances.

“My amendment will ensure that the government gets parliamentary approval before expelling them.”

Speaking earlier, Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said the Prime Minister and his delegation were “in conversation with MPs about the importance of creating this bill and the legal protection web.”

Confirming his talks with Prime Minister Sir Babu, he said, “Conversations with MPs will continue.”

What is the Internal Market Bill?

The bill sets the rules for the functioning of the UK internal market – trade between the UK, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – after the Brexit transition period ends in January.

It proposes:

  • There are no new tests of goods moving from Northern Ireland to other parts of Great Britain
  • Grant powers to UK Ministers to change or “deny” the rules relating to the movement of goods, effective January 1, if the UK and the EU cannot reach an alternative agreement through a trade agreement
  • Powers to violate previously agreed obligations in relation to government assistance – Government support for businesses.

The bill explicitly states that these powers must comply with international law even if they do not.

Ministers say legislation is needed to prevent “damaging” charges on goods traveling to the rest of the UK from Northern Ireland if negotiations with the EU over a free trade agreement fail.

But some senior Conservatives – including former Prime Minister John Major – have warned of the danger of tarnishing Britain’s reputation as a supporter of international law.

There is also the law Proved to be controversial with distributed administrations, The UK’s “internal market” is concerned about how the post-Brexit will work and who will set the rules and standards.

Harold Manning

"Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover."

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