MPs reinsert controversial Brexit powers after vote

The House of Commons restored sections of the UK Internal Market Bill which had been removed by peers.

MPs reinsert controversial Brexit powers after vote Getty Images

Powers that would enable ministers to breach international law have been reinserted into controversial Brexit legislation by MPs.

The House of Commons restored sections of the UK Internal Market Bill which had been removed by peers, as talks between the UK and EU continue in search of a deal on arrangements beyond December 31.

The Bill sets out the way trade within the UK will work once it is outside the EU’s single market and customs union.

It initially contained sections which enabled ministers to override the Brexit divorce deal, thereby breaching international law, in a bid to protect the trading relationship between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Peers inflicted a series of heavy defeats on the Government to remove the clauses, but MPs reinstated them on Monday evening.

Only one of the contentious clauses was pushed to a vote, and that was won by the Government by 357 votes to 268 – majority 89.

Business minister Paul Scully earlier said the Government wanted to retain these clauses in their current form in the Bill until discussions with the EU “have successfully concluded”.

He also confirmed the Government would be prepared to remove or deactivate three of the clauses if solutions were agreed during talks with the EU.

The SNP’s Stuart McDonald (MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East) said: “To present this appalling Bill to this House once, I think, was outrageous, showing contempt for our European friends and neighbours, trampling all over international law and riding roughshod over devolution.

“To push it through for a second time, deliberately putting back in place all the same flaws as before, is therefore simply shameless.”

Peers also inflicted defeats on the Government over devolution matters, amid concerns that the Bill brushes aside the freedoms of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

These were also overturned by MPs, including on so-called common frameworks – which manage the extent of divergence across policy areas – and funding of regional projects.

Peers had accused Westminster of pursuing a “power grab” by allowing ministers to take funding decisions across the UK post-Brexit, something the UK Government disagreed with.

The Bill returns to the House of Lords on Wednesday where peers could decide to fight back and strip out the controversial powers for a second time.