Boris Johnson’s “oven-ready” Brexit deal has come out half-baked. In December 2019, Johnson campaigned to win election on the promise he had an EU withdrawal deal ready to go. However, now the British government has brazenly admitted it intends to break international law to wiggle out of the treaty, proposing domestic legislation to override an agreement the Prime Minister had last year been selling to British voters as a “great deal for our country”.
The EU has warned the UK that trade talks are in danger of collapsing unless the UK withdraws its proposed law by the end of September 2020. The UK government has refused. Prime Minister Johnson is now facing a rebellion within his own Conservative party over the new legislation; the devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales are likely to withhold legislative consent, plunging the UK into a constitutional crisis; and the EU is considering taking legal action.
The European Commission says the UK has “seriously damaged trust” with its latest move. Clearly, the EU would prefer a deal with the UK. However, if Brussels does nothing and allows Britain to break an international agreement with no negative repercussions, then other countries (both inside and outside the EU) may be encouraged to try the same thing. It would send a message that treaties with the EU can be modified unilaterally, undermining the rules-based approach the EU tries to promote.
Can the EU still trust the UK to stick to deals? Are the UK-EU trade trade talks about to collapse? Has Brexit damaged the UK’s international reputation? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!