Boris Johnson reassured Brexit U-turn to have no ‘long-lasting’ impact on UK reputation

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The UK would face no “long-lasting” damage to its reputations should Boris Johnson choose to ignore aspects of the Political Declaration he signed up to with the Euroepan Union. Through the Brexit negotiations, the UK and the EU emerged as having a vastly differing view on the prominence of the declaration, with the British Government long reiterating the non-legally binding nature of the document. Prof Alan Winters, the Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, told “The Political Declaration is non-binding legally.

“It was believed to have been signed in good faith, I think it was signed in good faith. I think what’s happened, in a sense, is things have changed a little bit within the British Government.

“If Britain did not go along with what’s in the Political Declaration, if it was a wholesale denial of it, that would do some damage to Britain’s reputation.

“But I think the British Government would put in a lot of diplomatic efforts to say it’s a one off, it’s very special.”

He added: “So I don’t think the damage to reputation would be particularly long-lasting as long as we then got back to sensible and considered positions that didn’t get reversed.”

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The comments from Prof Winters came shortly before the Government announced it would table a series of changes to the Internal Market Bill that would affect the withdrawal agreement struck with Brussels,

The proposed amendments have caused further complicated talks with the EU, whose officials had already warned against any attempts to change the Political Declaration.

With both aspects of the withdrawal agreement now under threat, Boris Johnson has been warned changes of a no deal have increases as the bloc warned the Northern Ireland protocol affected by the changes is “paramount” to securing a trade deal.

At the end of the eighth round of talks in London, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned the union is prepared to launch legal action against the UK for breach of contract.

But the British Government has insisted it is entitled to seek a clarification of the Internal Market Bill in a bid to protect trade among UK nations in the event of a no deal scenario.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We’ve set out the clear reasons why we have to take these steps.

“We can’t allow the peace process of the UK’s internal market to be inadvertently compromised by the unintended consequences of the protocol.”

However, a group of Conservative MPs are now expected to mount vicious opposition to the Government over concerns about Britain’s reputation on the international stage.


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Parliamentarians from both the Commons and the Lords have warned the Government’s own admission that the changes would breach international law could threaten future attempts to strike trade deals as well as impact Britain’s long tradition as defenders of the rule of law.

Bromley and Chislehurst MP Sir Bob Neill announced on Thursday he will table and amendment to the Internal Market Bill in order to introduce a “parliamentary lock” on any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement.

Sir Bob has received the support of colleagues Oliver Heald and Theresa May’s former deputy, Damian Green.

He told Times Radio: “We are not natural rebels. We’ve all served as ministers, we know that this is a serious job, and we do our best to take the job seriously. So we don’t do anything like this lightly.

“So I hope it’s at least an indication as a Government that really, you need to think very hard and carefully about going down this route. For heaven’s sake, try and find some other way.”

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