Theresa May Says Brexit Bill Risks UK’s Reputation
By Staff, Agencies
Former British Prime Minister Theresa May launched a blistering attack on the government’s plan to give itself powers to renege on the special arrangements for Northern Ireland in the Brexit deal.
She described the plans as “reckless” and “irresponsible” and said they “risked the integrity of the United Kingdom”, as they would not only tarnish Britain’s reputation globally as an upholder of the law but could contribute to a reunited Ireland.
In a strongly worded speech in the House of Commons, May said: “I cannot emphasize enough how concerned I am [that] the Conservative government is willing to go back on its word to break an international agreement signed in good faith, and to break international law.”
Sitting beside two former Conservative party Northern Ireland secretaries, Karen Bradley and Theresa Villiers, and Sir Bob Neill, who threatened a backbench rebellion against the government, she said there could never be a time a minister could walk through the voting lobbies and say yes to breaking the law. May said the bill would also mean trust would be undermined in future negotiations with other countries. “So much for global Britain,” she quipped.
The Belfast South MP, the SDLP’s Claire Hanna, said Boris Johnson’s government had to own the consequences of the type of Brexit it agreed and should not “feign shock” when nine months later it emerged there would be trade barriers between east and west.
“The government is acting recklessly and irresponsibly with no thought to the long-term impact on the standing of the United Kingdom in the world. This will lead to untold damage to the United Kingdom’s reputation. It puts the future of the United Kingdom at risk. And, as a result, with regret, I have to tell the minister I cannot support this bill,” she said.
The bill, which is designed to regulate trade within the UK after Brexit, was unveiled by Downing Street two weeks ago, catching Conservative MPs, opposition parties and the EU off guard.