UK’s Brexit Treaty Override Powers Approved by Parliament’s Lower House | World News

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s House of Commons approved legislation on Tuesday that gives ministers the power to break its divorce deal with the European Union, despite the threat of legal action from Brussels and unrest within the governing Conservative Party.

The UK Internal Market Bill, which ministers acknowledge breaks international law, was approved by 340 votes to 256 and now passes to the House of Lords for debate.

The bill seeks to protect free trade between Britain’s four nations once a Brexit transition period ends, but has soured relations with Brussels just as time is running out to reach a deal on their long-term relationship.

After an initial uproar within Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party, including criticism from three former Conservative prime ministers, a rebellion was snuffed out by a concession to give parliament a say over using the powers.

The government says clauses in the bill which override the Withdrawal Agreement, signed by Johnson in January, are necessary to protect free trade with Northern Ireland, and will only be used if talks on a border solution with the EU fail.

The EU, which wants to make sure Northern Ireland’s open border with member state Ireland does not act as a back door for goods to come into the bloc, says it is an extremely serious violation of the exit treaty and has threatened to sue.

Scrutiny in the House of Lords, parliament’s upper chamber, is expected to take until early December. Johnson does not have a majority there and revisions to the most contentious clauses are likely to have strong support.

But talks with the EU are expected to move more quickly, and if a deal can be reached on an Irish border solution the powers may not be needed.

If there is no deal, any changes made by the Lords would need approval from the Commons, creating potential for a political standoff.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Ebbsfleet Garden City bosses seek clarity over Ebbsfleet International’s use as lorry park for Brexit

Garden city bosses have called for greater clarity over the proposed use of Ebbsfleet International station for Brexit after its sudden closure as a Coronavirus test centre.

Boris Johnson’s Government has earmarked it as a potential customs check point in the event the UK leaves without a deal, it is understood.

Vehicles queue to enter the Coronavirus testing centre set up in one of the car parks at Ebbsfleet International. Picture: Chris Davey
Vehicles queue to enter the Coronavirus testing centre set up in one of the car parks at Ebbsfleet International. Picture: Chris Davey

It comes after a Kent County Council letter was leaked showing that the Ebbsfleet Covid testing centre closed two weeks ago because it would be needed for HMRC for “inland border facilities” .

Precise use has not been confirmed but it is believed that one of Ebbsfleet station’s car parks would hold up to 80 lorries at a time and a booking system implemented for slots.

The decision has prompted fears locally that HGVs and lorries could be “stacked out” on the highway as a result.

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation (EDC), the planning authority tasked with delivering 15,000 homes at the UK’s newest Garden City, met to discuss these concerns on Wednesday.

Its chief executive, Ian Piper told planning members, including Dartford and Gravesham council leaders, “swim lanes” had been proposed to hold vehicles queuing to use the facility.

Ebbsfleet International car park D has been earmarked for the government's Brexit plans. Picture: Chris Dave
Ebbsfleet International car park D has been earmarked for the government’s Brexit plans. Picture: Chris Dave

Garden city bosses have been informed this new design would help prevent major blockages on surrounding roads entering the site, which is a short distance off the A2.

But Mr Piper said: “I think until the facility becomes operational and they are actually clearer how many vehicles are arriving and departing then I don’t think they can be totally sure whether the amount of ‘swim lane’ capacity they have put in will solve the problem.

“What it will do is it will hold capacity within the facility of those queuing rather than them being stacked out on the local highway”.

He added: “We have been pushing for a lot more detail about the operational aspects of the site.”

Dartford Council leader Jeremy Kite sought assurances these developments would be monitored closely, adding it was “extremely important for local people”.

A new special development order (SDO) was issued by the government on September 3.

Ebbsfleet Development Corporation's chief executive Ian Piper has sought further clarity over the car park's intended use
Ebbsfleet Development Corporation’s chief executive Ian Piper has sought further clarity over the car park’s intended use

This grants temporary planning permission to border departments for the development of inland border facilities and associated infrastructure across “specified local authorities”, of which Kent is one.

However, the Housing Secretary, who must sign off approval, has not yet received any submissions – although it is understood one is likely to be made for car park D at Ebbsfleet Central.

Ebbsfleet station had been used as a Covid testing site between April and September, but earlier this month testing staff were told “out of the blue” that the site would be closing.

The nearest testing facility is now in Medway , off Curtis

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U.S. House Speaker warns Britain that breaking Brexit treaty could imperil trade pact

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Britain on Wednesday that ignoring some parts of its European Union divorce treaty could imperil any new trade agreement with the United States.

“If the U.K. violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress,” the Democratic lawmaker said in a statement.

“The Good Friday Agreement is treasured by the American people and will be proudly defended in the United States Congress,” Pelosi said.

Britain quit the EU in January but has remained part of its single market, largely free of trade barriers, under an agreement that expires in December. London says that if it cannot negotiate a favorable trade deal to take effect from Jan. 1, it will simply walk away.

The agreement calls for border-free trade on the island of Ireland, which the EU says should in some cases require checks on goods passing between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

Some fear that a failure to agree on border arrangements could jeopardize the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which largely ended three decades of political and sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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