Boris Johnson crisis: PM warned war over Brexit masterplan could ‘end in Supreme Court’
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The Government is trying to get legislation, which risks overriding key elements of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the European Union, through the Houses of Parliament. The European Union has warned the Prime Minister to scrap the plan by the end of the month, warning it is severely increasing the probability of a no deal Brexit. But Boris Johnson is pressing ahead with the Bill, which ministers voted in favour of in its first test in the House of Commons on Monday, despite opposition from some of his own Conservative Party MPs towards it.
The legislation could soon proceed to the House of Lords, but several high-profile peers have already expressed their anger towards the Bill and warned it will not pass through the chamber in its current form.
Downing Street has warned the Lords over any attempt to block the legislation, and said ministers believed the Salisbury Convention – which states the House of Lords should not vote down legislation to implement Government manifesto commitments – should apply to the Bill.
This warning is likely intended to try and prevent a similar situation which dogged Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement as she desperately tried to unsuccessfully get it voted through both Houses before her resignation last year.
But Alistair Jones, Associate Professor in Politics and University Teacher Fellow at De Montfort University in Leicester, has warned Mr Johnson might be forced to use a 70-year-old Parliament Act to get the Bill through if the Lords blocks it.
The Parliament Act 1949 reduces the power of the House of Lords to delay certain types of legislation – specifically public Bills other than money Bills.
Professor Jones told Express.co.uk: “The anger towards Boris Johnson’s Internal Market Bill is not just from the House of Lords.
“There is a grave concern about the consequences of the UK choosing to breach an international agreement.
“I think it is being made clear in the Lords that they will block such legislation.
“The question will then arise as to whether Johnson will use the 1949 Parliament Act to force the legislation through.
“This may lead to further challenges in the Supreme Court.”
He added: “One of the roles played by the Lords is as a check on legislation going through the Commons which might be flawed or contain errors.
“The Lords are very good about picking up on this.
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“In this particular circumstance, the Lords have made it clear they will not be party to a breach of an international agreement.”
But Professor Jones insisted even if the Internal Market Bill is blocked by peers in the upper chamber, “Brexit will not be derailed”.
He believes the Prime Minister is “not overly bothered” if an agreement is struck with European Union, and has long been preparing for a no deal outcome with Brussels.
The political expert continued: “Brexit will not be derailed. We have already left the EU, and are merely in a Transition Period – which was supposed to be time for both sides to adjust to the new relationship.
“The Internal Market Bill could be derailed. However, I do not think Johnson is overly bothered.
“He has been ready for a no deal relationship and I feel that is his real aim. The issue is about finding a ‘fall guy’ to take the blame should this go wrong.
“Sir Keir Starmer has avoided this trap, as has the EU. The House of Lords may have walked into it.”
Commenting on the Internal Market Bill, a Number 10 spokesman said: “We would expect the Lords to abide by the Salisbury Convention.
“Guaranteeing the full economic benefit of leaving the EU to all parts of the United Kingdom and ensuring Northern Ireland’s businesses and producers enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK were clear Conservative manifesto commitments which this legislation delivers.”
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