Huge Brexit battle to erupt: MPs in major clash as Truss’ masterplan to be voted on

On Monday the House of Commons will vote on the Government’s Bill to override aspects of the Northern Ireland Protocol. It would give ministers the right to scrap elements of the international agreement unilaterally without permission from the EU.

The Bill is likely to pit Brexiteer MPs against their more pro-EU colleagues in what risks turning into the most bitter debate of legislation since the UK finally broke free of Brussels’ orbit.

The Government’s controversial legislation has already been criticised by Labour and some Conservative backbenchers, who have accused ministers of intending to breach international law with the plans.

Ms Truss unveiled the legislation in the House of Commons earlier this month saying she had been left with no choice but to introduce the legislation after a breakdown in negotiations with Brussels.

Talks have been held between the Government and the European Commission on easing frictions caused by the Protocol since October with little progress.


Unionists argue the EU’s heavy-handed implementation of the Protocol, agreed as part of the 2019 Brexit withdrawal agreement, is undermining the integrity of the United Kingdom.

Ministers intend to scrap checks on goods and animal and plant products travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland imposed by Brussels and instead only carry out customs controls on those set to head to the Republic of Ireland in the south.

Stringent fines would be imposed on those exploiting the system to smuggle goods into the EU single market.

Boris Johnson’s sizeable majority in the House of Commons means the Government is likely to be able to push the Bill through the lower chamber.

However, peers in the House of Lords are already vowing to amend the legislation to frustrate the Government and force it to be revoted on by MPs. Their interventions could delay the Bill by as long as a year.

Ashfield MP Lee Anderson told “I suspect that if the unelected Remainer Lords had to face general elections like us MPs then they might actually be more in touch with the British public or be out of a job.

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“We are answerable to the public unlike our Lords can basically vote whichever way they want.”

Ms Truss has said the Northern Ireland Good Friday Agreement is currently under threat from the Protocol and the legislation is needed to maintain peace.

The Foreign Secretary told MPs in the Commons earlier this week: “Our priority as the UK Government is the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and we know that the Northern Ireland Protocol is undermining that agreement.

“We haven’t seen the institutions in Northern Ireland functioning since February and we know that the issues caused are baked into the Protocol, namely the customs provisions and the VAT provisions, so we do need to change that.”

The DUP, the largest Unionist political party in Northern Ireland, has long opposed the protocol and is refusing to enter the power-sharing institutions at Stormont until issues with the post-Brexit settlement for the region are addressed.

It means there is currently no functioning devolved government in the province.

Leader of the DUP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson praised the Government for announcing a vote on the legislation would take place next week.

He said: “It is important that this bill now progresses rapidly through its legislative stages in the Commons before the summer recess and we will want to see that not only does the bill receive substantial support at Westminster, but that it is not subject to either wrecking amendments or indeed other amendments that would dilute the framework and impact of the bill.”

The Lagan Valley MP added: “We want to see the Northern Ireland Assembly and executive restored and that can be achieved when there is a sustainable basis for doing so.

“We will continue to be condition and not calendar led as we look forward to this bill now making rapid progress.”