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British Parliament set to vote on controversial trade bill


British Parliament set to vote on controversial trade bill

boris johnson
Photo: Jessica Taylor/HOC

The UK’s House of Commons is slated to debate Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s controversial Internal Market Bill today.

The bill sparked outrage two weeks ago when the Northern Ireland Secretary admitted that the bill, which would allow ministers to modify or disapply trade provisions on goods travelling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, would violate the Withdrawal Agreement (and international law) in a “specific and limited way.” The Johnson government claims the bill is necessary to preserve the UK’s integrated market after Brexit.

Following the vote, the House will debate the wording of the bill, which may result in an amendment ensuring parliamentary supervision over the use of the controversial clauses. While the government’s comfortable majority is likely to ensure the bill’s continued safe passage, criticism from even eurosceptic Conservative backbenchers may give the more independent House of Lords an opportunity to delay and amend the bill without appearing to “block Brexit.”

This raises the prospect of a fresh constitutional crisis if the Lords return the bill to the Commons for reconsideration. Yet, since the Lords will not discuss the bill until November, expect Johnson to use the bill as a bargaining chip to attempt to extract concessions from the EU in the ongoing trade negotiations.

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