Johnson told to drop parts of plan to break international law – after Lords defeat

It seems Boris Johnson is living up to his new nickname as a #ShapeShiftingCreep once again.

He has just suffered a major defeat in his plan to break international law – contradicting his own EU Withdrawal Agreement, signed in January – after the House of Lords carved huge chunks out of his Internal Markets Bill before sending it back to him:

According to the Huffington Post:

Peers voted by 433 to 165 to strip out clauses in the Internal Market Bill which would allow the UK to renege on its obligations in the withdrawal agreement signed with the EU.

The defeat, one of the largest of any government in the Lords since hereditary peers were slimmed down in the 1990s, means that Johnson will have to weigh up whether to reinsert the clause in the House of Commons next month.

In another overwhelming show of strength, the Lords also voted by 407 to 148 to remove any breach of the northern Ireland protocol in the EU withdrawal treaty.

Senior Tories went on to tell Johnson his best course of action is to “quietly drop” those parts of the Bill that the Lords have excised.

The Evening Standard said Tories including Theresa May’s ex-chief of staff Gavin Barwell, former chancellor Ken Clarke and former Conservative Party leaders William Hague and Michael Howard all voted against Johnson’s government:

Lord Barwell told the Standard: “I don’t see any positives that come from those clauses.

He said the clauses were affecting the UK’s ability to get a trade deal with the EU and “rule out” any possible trade deal with the US while “damaging relations” with the new Joe Biden administration [in the United States].

After the vote, Johnson’s government insisted it would not back down and would re-table the clauses when the bill returns to the Commons in December.

Ah… but then there was the issue of Joe Biden. The new US president, who claims Irish ancestry, has said he will take an extremely dim view of any UK legislation that harms the Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland.

And it seems certain that he would have made that clear when Johnson telephoned to congratulate him on his win in the presidential election:

Johnson now faces a hard choice: reinstate the controversial – illegal – clauses and face the wrath of Biden, or quietly let them drop and face ridicule here in the UK.

He is a weak prime minister – who allows public perception to sway his decisions. I think we all know how this will end.

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