Thank you to everyone who contacted me about the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill.
In December, the EU-UK Joint Committee on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement reached an agreement on the Northern Ireland protocol. This resolved the issues the Government claimed made clauses in the Internal Market Bill that breached international law necessary. As a result, the Government withdrew several clauses on the Northern Ireland protocol from the Internal Market Bill.
Essentially, the Joint Committee was able to deal with issues relating to the Northern Ireland protocol through the process set out in the Withdrawal Agreement. The clauses of the Internal Market Bill threatening to override the treaty were therefore not simply wrong, but also unnecessary. By introducing them, the Government damaged our reputation internationally, reopened discussion about the Northern Ireland protocol that had already been settled and undermined efforts to reach the deal with the EU the country needed, all for no good reason.
It was for these reasons, amongst others, that I voted against the Internal Market Bill, as well as supporting amendments to remove clauses breaching international law and ensure the Government respected the rule of law. It is disappointing that the Government rejected these attempts to improve the Bill on several occasions and continued upon an unnecessary and damaging course for so long, before finally removing the clauses in question.
The Internal Market Act passed into law on 17 December 2020 and the EU and UK reached an agreement on our future relationship a week later. We now need to build on this to retain a close relationship with the EU, including making the Northern Ireland protocol work.