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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House bill would give FAA new oversight powers over Boeing after 737 Max crashes

The legislation also would provide the FAA an extra $30 million a year to beef up its own engineering and technical teams and calls for some two dozen other changes to the nation’s aviation safety regime.

The crashes, the first off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, and the second in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March 2019, killed a total of 346. In both cases, investigators have concluded that an automated system on the planes malfunctioned, driving their noses down as the pilots struggled in vain to regain control.

The Max was grounded worldwide soon thereafter.

Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D-Ore.), the Transportation Committee’s chairman, said an investigation by his staff into the crashes had left him “alarmed.”

“But being alarmed and outraged is not where this story should end,” DeFazio said in a statement. “With the comprehensive legislation we are unveiling today, I believe history can also show this was the moment Congress stepped up to meaningfully address the gaps in the regulatory system for certifying aircraft and adopt critical reforms that will improve public safety and ensure accountability at all levels going forward.”

The committee Republicans’ support for the bill is something of a surprise because they have previously questioned Democrats’ focus on making changes to the FAA’s safety oversight system and did not take part in the committee’s investigation.

But Rep. Sam Graves (Mo.), the committee’s top Republican, said other expert reviews of the crashes highlighted problems with how the FAA conducts approvals for new planes that ought to be addressed.

“These thorough, nonpartisan, expert reviews provided recommendations that formulated the basis of improvements we are seeking through this legislation,” Graves said in a statement. “I believe this bill will improve safety and strengthen America’s competitiveness in the aerospace industry while ensuring that the United States and the FAA continue to be the global gold standard in aviation.”

Earlier this month, the committee Democrats released the findings of their 18-month investigation into the crashes. They concluded that Boeing missed opportunities to improve the safety of the automated system that was implicated in the crashes and which its own employees had raised concerns about. The FAA, meanwhile, failed to effectively oversee the company and ensure that the Max was safe, the investigation found.

The two crashes are “clear evidence that the current regulatory system is fundamentally flawed and needs to be repaired,” the committee’s investigators wrote.

The House investigation identified two particular problems: A system in which Boeing employees are responsible for carrying out safety work on behalf of the FAA but lack independence and FAA managers who were willing to overrule their own experts on safety questions.

FAA officials have said they are pursuing changes internally, but a survey of employees in the agency’s safety branch conducted between October and February found many still faulted its dealings with big companies like Boeing. One compared meetings with the company as being like “showing up to a knife fight with Nerf weapons.”

The House legislation aims to provide

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