Sun, 20 Sept 2020
NEWBURY MP Laura Farris voted with the Government on a bill that one of its own ministers admitted would break international law.
The Internal Market Bill would give the Government the power to override parts of its Brexit agreement with the EU.
The Government says it provides safeguards to protect Northern Ireland if trade negotiations break down.
But critics argue that it breaches international law and jeopardises the UK’s reputation.
The bill would allow goods and services to move between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland when the UK leaves the single market and customs union on January 1.
But it also allows the Government to change aspects of the EU Withdrawal Agreement, the legally-binding deal governing the terms of Brexit.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said that the bill would break international law, but only in “a very specific and limited way”.
The bill passed its second reading in the Commons by 340 votes to 263 following a five-hour debate on Monday.
Newbury MP Laura Farris, a barrister specialising in employment and equality law, voted with the Government.
Two Conservative MPs voted against and 30 more abstained.
Mrs Farris was not available for comment as the Newbury Weekly News went to press.
West Berkshire Liberal Democrats Parliamentary spokesman Lee Dillon said: “I’m really disappointed that Laura voted with the Government to break international law.
“It’s not what this country is founded on, it’s not what her own career is founded on and I hope that those Conservatives that voted against the Government will be able to convince their colleagues to vote against it in the committee stage.
“We can’t put at risk the Good Friday peace agreement.”
Mr Dillon, who stood against Mrs Farris in last year’s general election, said: “Laura and her colleagues got elected in December on the strength of their ‘oven ready’ deal and that’s what they have got to stick to.
“That’s what we agreed and that’s what we agreed with as a sovereign country with the EU.
“You can’t just choose to break individual sections of it at will.
“This absolutely is not about Brexit per se.
“Whether you voted Leave or Remain we are leaving the EU, but when we are about to go and forge a new place for ourselves in the world you have to make sure your word is strong enough to back up your deal.
“This is putting all that at risk.”