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    U.K. Justice Secretary Warns He May Quit Over Brexit Plan

    Abstract:Justice Secretary Robert Buckland warned he could quit over the U.K. governments plan to break international law by overriding the Brexit divorce treaty, as EU leaders stepped up pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

      Justice Secretary Robert Buckland warned he could quit over the U.K. governments plan to break international law by overriding the Brexit divorce treaty, as EU leaders stepped up pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

      “If I see the rule of law being broken in a way I find unacceptable, then of course I will go,” Buckland said on BBC TV on Sunday, when asked if he would resign if Britain acted on its plan to unilaterally override the legally binding Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. “We are not at that stage.”

      Buckland said he expects the U.K. will resolve its differences with the European Union in discussions in the coming weeks and won‘t have to act on Johnson’s plan. He described the prime ministers proposal as a “break the glass in emergency provision” and an insurance policy.

      His warning comes as Johnson tries to marshal his Conservative colleagues to support his controversial plan, with former prime ministers Tony Blair, Theresa May and John Major criticizing his proposals to rewrite the divorce agreement he struck with the EU last year. In a joint opinion piece in the Sunday Times, Major and Blair said Johnsons move is “shocking” and “imperils” the Good Friday accord that led to more than two decades of peace in Northern Ireland.

      Johnson also faced continued criticism from the EU over his actions. Charles Michel, the president of the EU leaders‘ council, said Britain’s international credibility is at stake, and the EU‘s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, rejected the U.K.’s claim that the Brexit divorce treaty is a “threat to the integrity of the U.K.”

      Call with @MichealMartinTD

      Withdrawal Agreement to be fully implemented, ensure peace & stability in Ireland & preserve the integrity of Single Market.

      Time for UK Government to take its responsibilities.

      International credibility of UK signature at stake #RuleOfLaw #Brexit pic.twitter.com/OUuyPUcbwa

      — Charles Michel (@eucopresident) September 13, 2020

      “We agreed this delicate compromise with @BorisJohnson & his gov in order to protect peace & stability on island of Ireland,” Barnier tweeted. Simon Coveney, Irelands foreign minister, said on BBC TV on Sunday that the U.K. had created “enormous tensions” in the trade negotiations with the EU.

      The risk for Britain is that the controversy around Johnsons plan increases the prospect that it will end the Brexit transition period without a free-trade accord with the EU, spelling an economic shock as tariffs and quotas are introduced on commerce with its biggest trading partner. It also could create border chaos as freight faces significant extra red tape and new government IT systems are still untested and in development.

      {21}

      Protocol on IE/NI is not a threat to the integrity of the UK. We agreed this delicate compromise with @BorisJohnson & his gov in order to protect peace & stability on island of Ireland. We could not have been clearer about the consequences of #Brexit [1/2]

      {21}

      — Michel Barnier (@MichelBarnier) September 13, 2020

      {24}

      The immediate challenge for Johnson is to get his legislation through Parliament, where resistance looms: the opposition Labour Party will vote against the bill and seek to amend it, shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said on BBC TV on Sunday.

      {24}

      {26}

      “The bill as it stands, the Labour Party and it looks like a large number of Conservative MPs, will not be able to support it,” Reeves said. “I cannot go through the division lobbies knowing that we are deliberately and consciously breaking international law.”

      {26}

      (Updates with EU reaction from fifth paragraph.)

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