EU starts legal action against UK today over controversial Brexit law
EU bosses have today started legal action against the UK – claiming it’s breaching the Brexit deal signed earlier this year.
The European Commission will kick off the legal process which could end up in a bumper bust up in the European Court of Justice.
European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced the news this morning.
She told the media: “This morning the Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to the UK government.
“This is the first step in an infringement procedure.”
Brussels bosses set Britain a deadline of yesterday to remove the controversial parts from the internal markets bill – which critics say overwrites the Brexit deal.
But the UK Government had refused and said they weren’t going to, insisting it was necessary to close loopholes if we leave without a deal at the end of the year.
The row has led to a huge bust up between Britain and the EU – with both sides refusing to back down.
A government spokesperson said today: “We will respond to the letter in due course.
“We have clearly set out our reasons for introducing the measures related to the Northern Ireland Protocol. We need to create a legal safety net to protect the integrity of the UK’s internal market, ensure Ministers can always deliver on their obligations to Northern Ireland and protect the gains from the peace process.”
Government insiders said the legal threats were a common tool the EU regularly use against member states – and that last year alone there were 800 open cases.
Last month Ms Von Der Leyen accused No 10 of trashing Margaret Thatcher’s legacy.
The EU chief vowed she will “never backtrack” from the Brexit deal struck last year and warned the PM reneging on it will damage future relations.
Addressing the EU Parliament in Brussels, she said: “This agreement has been ratified by this House and by the House of Commons.
“It cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded, or disapplied. This is a matter of law and trust and of good faith.
“Trust is the foundation of any strong partnership.”
And in a swipe at the Tory leader she also quoted ex PM Margaret Thatcher in defence of the EU’s position.
She said: “That is not just me saying it. I remind you of the words of Margaret Thatcher.
“I quote: ‘Britain does not break treaties – it would be bad for Britain, bad for relations with the rest of the world, and bad for any future treaty on trade’.”
The EU chief added: “This was true then and this is true today.”
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The legislation contradicts key clauses of the Northern Ireland Protocol and hands ministers the power to determine rules on state aid and goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain instead of leaving EU technocrats with the reins.
The draft law says the provisions will “have effect notwithstanding inconsistency or incompatibility with international or other domestic law”.
It adds parts of the original Brexit deal which are conflicting “cease to be recognised and available in domestic law”.
It passed its third reading in the House of Commons last night with 340 votes to 256 and will now go to the House of Lords.