THIS week in Westminster, our primary focus is on the UK Internal Market Bill, and I’d like to share my insights on this so far.
I know some believe, as it passed the second reading on Monday night, that the bill had become law. It has not. A ‘second reading’, gives permission for the bill to progress further through the parliamentary process, which it is now doing; with much debate this week and more to come in the next.
The bill in itself does not break the law and we have made sure that the government would need parliamentary authority to breach a treaty obligation.
But this bill gives powers to HM government to act to preserve the unity and territorial integrity of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which is currently at risk, if the EU forces us to a no-deal exit.
The point about international law, which is much reported, is that if we were forced into this situation, the UK government would need to break a treaty commitment.
The reason we are in this situation is because the EU and UK negotiators have reached an impasse. The EU wants greater access to our fishing waters, including for supertrawlers, and we don’t.
It’s important to the 24 fishing vessels in Lyme Regis and West Bay that we never allow the 9,500 gigatonne FV Margiris, the second largest factory fishing ship in the world, anywhere near Dorset again. I’m pleased that the Prime Minister is not selling our fishermen down the river.
The other area is that the EU wants to control our state aid arrangements. In other words, how much the UK government can financially support companies should they need it. The Prime Minister equally has said no.
The consequence of this impasse is that the EU is looking to activate the customs border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland if there is no trade agreement in place. It means that the EU can make decisions on behalf of Northern Ireland that could ultimately prevent goods and produce from being moved from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
So, there are two choices if we end up in a no-deal scenario, and it almost feels as though that is a situation the EU wants us to be in.
Firstly, to allow the United Kingdom to be broken up or, secondly, to ensure it is not broken up – strengthening our negotiating position, albeit with some risk of breaching an international treaty.
As a member of the United Kingdom Parliament I cannot stand by and run the risk of the UK being broken up, albeit with some consequences. I am therefore supporting the government in the hope that, in the end, none of this will be necessary anyway.
You can read more at www.chrisloder.co.uk/internalmarketbill