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Boris Johnson is showing “absolute contempt for the ordinary way of doing business”, according to Ken Clarke. The former Chancellor was addressing the Government’s controversial UK Internal Market Bill, which sparked an uproar over its aim to override parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. Lord Clarke warned ITV’s Peston that the “bizarre gesture” was akin to Donald Trump’s tactics, and could have serious consequences for the UK’s relationships with the EU and President-Elect Joe Biden.
He said: “I spoke on the second reading earlier on and I assumed the feeling was so strong then that Downing Street would try to get out of it.
“It’s a kind of Donald Trump-like gesture.
“At this late stage in these difficult negotiations with the Europeans, some bright spark came up with the idea that we should tell them that we’re going to break the treaty that we ratified, that we made with them, only eight months before.
“And if they don’t give us whatever it is we’re after, on Ireland or something, then we will just do what we like, break our own domestic law, break international law.”
Lord Clarke continued: “They didn’t explain quite what they do intend to do about customs, controls and all the rest of it. It was a bizarre gesture.
“To actually take it through Parliament, and to think that they’re not going to have terrible trouble, was extraordinary.
“As well as showing absolute contempt for the ordinary way of doing business.”
The senior Conservative also gave insight into the incoming new US President, and how he would react to this behaviour.
He told ITV: “Joe Biden’s an old pro, an old Senator, he doesn’t smoke but he’s a smoke-filled room deal maker, as all the best Senators are when it comes to a crisis.
“When you’re dealing with people like Joe Biden, this kind of childish stuff is very very harmful.
“The whole thing is actually deeply, deeply worrying because it’s breaking the rule of law.”
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Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted that the plan would break international law, but claimed it would only be “in a very specific and limited way”.
The European Commission warned that the bill had “seriously damaged trust” between the EU and UK.
In October, they demanded that the Government withdraw the controversial measures by the end of the month, but were ignored.
As a result, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, confirmed that the EU is starting legal proceedings.
A letter of formal notice has been sent to the UK Government as “the first step in an infringement procedure”.
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