‘We can’t allow that!’ Gove warns EU Brexit demands will rip Northern Ireland from UK

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Michael Gove has dismissed EU orders to back down over plans to break parts of the Brexit withdrawal agreement. The European Commission demanded that the Government withdraw measures from an internal markets bill that override the deal by the end of the month. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster warned BBC Breakfast that the current provisions of the withdrawal agreement would “damage” the relationship between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

He justified the Government’s plans, saying: “I think it’s important to clarify why we are contemplating particular steps.

“These steps are a safety net, a long stop, in the event that the EU follow through on what some have said they might do.

“That’s to, in effect, separate Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom.

“We can’t allow that to happen.”

Mr Gove continued: “I think it’s vitally important that we are clear and precise about the position, as the Attorney General was.

“She outlined that what we are doing is consistent with the rule of law.

“One of the things we are doing is making sure that we apply the withdrawal agreement and we apply the protocol so we are not in the position where the European Union can seek to use the sorts of measures that would damage the United Kingdom.

“We’re committed to implementing the withdrawal agreement and we’re committed to implementing the protocol for Northern Ireland.”

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The minister added: “The department for which I’m responsible for has been spending hundreds of millions making sure that that protocol is implemented, and that there are new checks on food and animals going to Northern Ireland.

“So we’re doing our part generously in order to protect the EU’s own single market.

“But we’re clear that what we can’t have is the EU disrupting and threatening the integrity of the United Kingdom.”

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Mr Gove recently met with a Vice-President of the European Commission to discuss the bill the Government has proposed.

The Commission says that the bill has “seriously damaged trust” between the EU and UK.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis admitted that the Government’s plan would break international law.

However, he claimed it would only be “in a very specific and limited way”.

Some Conservative MPs have said publicly that they will vote against the controversial legislation.

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