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Brexit news – live: EU says Boris Johnson's plans to rip up agreement risk peace on Ireland and will lead to no-deal, as Labour warns PM playing 'dangerous game'

Follow the latest updates from parliament as they happened

Conrad Duncan,Samuel Osborne,Vincent Wood
Monday 07 September 2020 17:20 BST
Brexit briefing: How long until the end of the transition period?

The EU has warned Boris Johnson that plans to rip-up the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement will risk peace in Ireland and lead to a no-deal outcome from trade talks.

Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, told the UK government that the agreement, which was ratified by the UK last year, was “an obligation under international law”.

It came as Labour said the prime minister was “playing a dangerous game in Northern Ireland” and risking the UK’s international standing.

Here are the day’s events as they happened:


Hello and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage of Brexit and the House of Commons today.

Conrad Duncan7 September 2020 07:47

UK will walk out of Brexit trade talks if no deal by mid-October, Johnson says

The UK is preparing to walk out of Brexit talks if there is no agreement with the EU by the middle of October, raising the chance of a no-deal outcome from the negotiations.

Boris Johnson said there was “no sense in thinking about timelines that go beyond” a planned EU summit on 15 October because any further delay would mean an agreement would not be in place by the end of this year.

“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on,” Mr Johnson said, ahead of the latest round of negotiations in London.

Our reporter, Jon Stone, has the full story below:

Conrad Duncan7 September 2020 07:58

Anger over reported plans to rip-up Brexit Withdrawal Agreement

Political figures in Ireland and Northern Ireland have reacted angrily to suggestions that ministers will tear up the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in negotiations with the EU.

The government appeared to confirm a report by the Financial Times which said Boris Johnson was planning new legislation to override key parts of the Withdrawal Agreement signed by the UK government.

Mr Johnson is expected to say today that collapsing the trade talks, if there is no agreement by 15 October, would still be a “good outcome” for the UK.

It is understood that sections of the Internal Market Bill, which is due to be published on Wednesday, will attempt to “eliminate” the legal force of the Withdrawal Agreement in areas such as state aid and Northern Ireland customs.

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, warned that the reported plans would be “a very unwise way to proceed”.

Colum Eastwood, the SDLP’s leader, said the government risked undermining the Good Friday Agreement and destroying its own credibility on the world stage if it proceeded with one of the most “reckless” acts concerning Ireland in recent history.

“It's absolutely astonishing that any government who says they want to go and do trade deals around the world would just rip up an agreement that they made a few months ago with the European Union,” Mr Eastwood told BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour.

“And what they would be doing in that would be undermining the Good Friday Agreement which is an agreement voted for by the vast majority of people on the island of Ireland, they'd be risking a hard border in our country and they'd be threatening the peace and security that we've built up over decades.”

He added: “It would be the most reckless act that a British government, and they've made many reckless acts in Ireland ... in a long, long time and if they do this their international credibility I think would be shot to pieces.”

Conrad Duncan7 September 2020 08:12

Labour's shadow health secretary has said reports of government plans to rip-up the Withdrawal Agreement suggest Boris Johnson was “misleading people” during the 2019 general election.

“Boris Johnson, I thought, told us he had an oven-ready deal. And, he fought a general election telling us he had an oven-ready deal, now suggests that he was misleading people in that general election,” Jonathan Ashworth told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“And parliament supported the Withdrawal Agreement earlier on this year. He has made promises and signed a treaty around these arrangements for Northern Ireland, and he now seems to be backing out of that.”

Mr Ashworth added: “I think people will be very surprised that when he promised us an oven-ready deal, it now looks like he's pushing us towards no deal at a time when we are in recession, at a time when many fear for their jobs, at a time when the furlough scheme is coming to an end.

"We should be putting in place measures to grow our economy, not do further damage to our economy."

Conrad Duncan7 September 2020 08:18

London mayor Sadiq Khan has warned the UK government to be “very careful” over abandoning the Withdrawal Agreement in Brexit talks with the EU.

Mr Khan suggested ripping-up the agreement could risk the UK’s credibility on the world stage.

“You can’t reach an agreement with somebody and then a few months later break the agreement because otherwise why should other parties, other countries around the world, have any confidence when they do a deal with you as a government that you’re going to abide by the deal,” he told Sky News.

Conrad Duncan7 September 2020 08:27

Hard Brexit would be ‘devastating’ for Scotland, SNP says

A hard Brexit would be “devastating” for Scotland and cause lasting damage to jobs and the country’s economy, the SNP has said.

Ian Blackford, the party’s Westminster leader, said the reported plans to override the Withdrawal Agreement were “reckless”.

“By threatening to undermine the UK's international treaty obligations and impose a catastrophic no-deal Brexit on Scotland against our will, the prime minister is proving he cannot be trusted and is underlining the need for Scotland to become an independent country,” Mr Blackford said.

“Scotland has been completely ignored by Westminster throughout the Brexit process.

“It is increasingly clear that the UK will now be leaving the EU with either a very bad deal or no deal at all - either of which would be a disaster for Scotland.”

Conrad Duncan7 September 2020 08:32

Overriding Withdrawal Agreement could harm US-UK trade deal, David Lammy says

Labour’s shadow justice secretary has warned plans to override the Withdrawal Agreement could risk a US-UK trade deal collapsing.

David Lammy noted that Nancy Pelosi, a top Democrat in the US congress, said last year that any agreement which undermined the Good Friday Agreement with Northern Ireland would not lead to a trade deal with the US.

“Whatever form it takes, Brexit cannot be allowed to imperil the Good Friday agreement, including the seamless border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, especially now, as the first generation born into the hope of Good Friday 21 years ago comes into adulthood,” Ms Pelosi said in August.

Conrad Duncan7 September 2020 08:39

Government is not trying to ‘threaten’ EU, minister says

Environmental secretary George Eustice has insisted the government is not trying to threaten the EU following reports of plans to override parts of the Withdrawal Agreement in Brexit talks.

Mr Eustice sought to downplay talk of the agreement being abandoned but said there might be “one or two loose ends” once the process was concluded.

“The prime minister has been very clear since he was elected with a very clear mandate to leave that we would leave at the end of the transition period with or without a negotiated settlement,” the minister told BBC Breakfast.

“We said that we would work night and day to try to get that Canada-style trade deal that we seek but if the European Union wouldn't offer that, that we would still leave on time and we would do that under the terms of the existing Withdrawal Agreement that we've got.”

He added: “It's not posturing or a threat, this has been the reality of our position right from the beginning.”

Conrad Duncan7 September 2020 08:57

Our deputy political editor, Rob Merrick, has more details below on the government’s latest shock move on the Brexit negotiations:

Boris Johnson risks collapse of Brexit talks with controversial new plan to 'rip up' parts of withdrawal agreement

Shock move would override legal agreements on state aid and Irish Sea customs checks - also 'undermining' fragile peace process

Conrad Duncan7 September 2020 09:05

Minister declines to confirm whether no-deal is back on the table

The environment secretary has declined to say whether no-deal is back on the table for negotiations and argued that the EU appears to be in denial about the UK’s desire to become an independent country.

“The prime minister has been clear, we're not after anything exceptional or special really,” George Eustice told BBC Breakfast.

“We understand the EU's position on these things but we do think an agreement along the lines of the agreement the EU has with Canada, a fairly standard but quite ambitious free trade agreement, is something worth doing and we stand ready to do that.”

Mr Eustice added: “You will have noticed the European Union have been reluctant to engage on that basis and appear to be somewhat in denial about the fact that we do genuinely want to be an independent country so those negotiations have not been easy.”

Conrad Duncan7 September 2020 09:20

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