Brexit: Brandon Lewis admits government plan to change withdrawal agreement breaks international law – live

Northern Ireland secretary says plan breaks law but there is precedent; Theresa May accuses Boris Johnson of undermining trust in UK

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Here is the QC and anti-government transparency and accountability campaigner Jolyon Maugham on Brandon Lewis’s comment about the government breaking international law. (See 1.27pm.)

“My client only broke the law in a specific and limited way” is amongst the rarer pleas advanced by Counsel in written or oral submissions. https://t.co/2beBwHC7Py

This is what Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland secretary, said when his Tory colleague Sir Bob Neill asked for an assurance that nothing in the internal market bill being published tomorrow would breach international legal obligations. Lewis replied:

I would say to my honourable friend that, yes, this does break international law in a very specific and limited way. We’re taking the power to disapply the EU law concept of direct effect required by article 4 in certain very tightly defined circumstances.

There are clear precedents for the UK, and indeed other countries, needing to consider their international obligations as circumstances change. And I would say to honourable members here, many of whom would have been in this house when we passed the Finance Act in 2013 which contains an example of treaty override. It contains provisions that expressly disapply international tax treaties to the extent that these conflicted with the general anti-abuse rule.

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