Boris Johnson’s plan to flout international law over Brexit could be foiled by the House of Lords in a crunch vote next month.
Peers are preparing to vote overwhelmingly to throw out six clauses from the Internal Market Bill, which ministers have admitted will break Britain’s divorce agreement signed with Brussels last year.
Shadow attorney general Charlie Falconer told us there is now “very strong support” among peers for kicking the legislation back to the Commons.
Lord Falconer, who served as Tony Blair’s justice secretary, said the Bill would do untold damage to Britain’s standing in the world and to the UK’s devolution settlement.
He said: “This Bill trashes the UK’s reputation for abiding by the law and it promotes divisions between the four parts of the United Kingdom. It is a terrible Bill.”
He added: “The government operates in a way that indicates they don’t care about the law, they see the law as an inconvenience, they act as if they’re too clever for the law.
“They do not know the damage they are doing to the way the country works. If you can’t trust the law, who’s gonna trust us? Are the citizens of this country going to trust the government if they don’t care about the law?”
Put the blunderbuss down…
The Labour peer also argued the Bill “undermines devolution” as many powers that would normally be devolved are being reserved at Westminster.
“It’s so thoughtless, they need to stop and think”, he said.
“The Government have got to put their blunderbuss down and start talking to people, including in the devolved Parliaments and reach agreement about how you respect devolution, whilst ensuring there is a functioning internal market.”
His comments came as Scotland’s teaching watchdog warned the Bill could also impact on educational standards.
Coming up from 1.30pm, detailed examination of the #UKIMBill continues. Members are expected to discuss the role of devolved administrations and the powers of ministers. Find out morehttps://t.co/OpLCIls4f9 pic.twitter.com/yIIXJ98B4j
— House of Lords (@UKHouseofLords) October 28, 2020
Ken Muir, the Chief Executive and Registrar of the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS), said the Bill would mean his organisation “would seem to be expected to give full registration to teachers from any of the jurisdictions in the UK, irrespective if they are highly qualified or unqualified”.
The UK Government have disputed the claims, saying they are inaccurate and incorrect. A spokesman said that the body would still be able to retain and set its own standards for new teacher registrations.
Peers will continue their line-by-line scrutiny of the Bill until a crunch vote set for November 9, when the Lords will either accept the legislation or send it back to MPs for further consideration.