British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday a bill that would break international law by breaching parts of the Brexit divorce deal was needed because the European Union had not taken a “revolver off the table” in trade talks.
Johnson accuses the EU of threatening to use the withdrawal treaty agreed in January to put up trade barriers between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, and even to impose a food blockade, the latest brinkmanship of a four-year saga since Britain voted narrowly to leave the bloc.
The EU says Johnson’s plan would wreck trade talks and propel the United Kingdom towards a messy Brexit. A derivatives industry source said on Monday the European Commission had delayed a decision on euro clearing, ramping up the pressure.
As Britain’s House of Commons began debating the Internal Market Bill, which the EU has demanded London scraps by the end of September, Johnson said the bloc had shown in talks it was prepared to go to extreme and unreasonable lengths.
He said the bill would stop the EU using part of the Brexit divorce deal relating to Northern Ireland as leverage by threatening to block exports from elsewhere in the UK to the province.
“The intention of this bill is clearly to stop any such use of the stick against this country,” he said. “That’s what it does. It’s a protection, it’s a safety net, it’s an insurance policy and it’s a very sensible measure.”