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Speaking on the Brexit Unlocked podcast, hosts and former Brexit Party MEPs Martin Daubney and Belinda DeLucy discussed Boris Johnson’s plans which risk overriding elements within the withdrawal agreement with ex-MEP Ben Habib. Mr Habib explained the agreement was not consistent with the Prime Minister’s Brexit “promises”. Mr Johnson has since drawn up legislation which will allow ministers to override some parts of the bill involving Northern Ireland.
Mr Habib said: “Anyone who spent five minutes reading that agreement back in October 2019 would have determined almost instantly that it put a border down the Irish Sea.
“It left the Northern Irish people under the hegemony of the European Court of Justice.
“It was not consistent with the promises made by the prime minister which were to take back control of our laws, our border and our cash.
“It’s a great shame that here we are having got a Conservative majority on the basis of getting Brexit done and we’re now having to fight a rear-guard action to extricate ourselves from a c**p agreement.”
It comes as the European Commission chief has said she is “convinced” a trade deal remains possible with the UK but called Mr Johnson’s plans which risk overriding the Brexit treaty an “unpleasant surprise”.
Ursula von der Leyen, in comments made to reporters on Thursday, said Downing Street’s controversial UK Internal Market Bill had “distracted very strongly” from the two sides being able to secure fresh trade terms before the looming deadline.
The post-Brexit transition period, during which relations between the European Union and the UK have remained static, is due to end after December 31 and leaders on both sides of the Channel have warned that an agreement is needed by October if a deal is to be ratified in time for the start of 2021.
With the cliff edge only a month away, the Prime Minister has faced criticism domestically and on the world stage for pursuing legislation that would defy the Withdrawal Agreement brokered with the EU last year, breaking international law in the process.
Mr Johnson was forced on Wednesday to agree to table an amendment to the Internal Market Bill, giving MPs a vote before the Government can use the powers related to Northern Ireland which would breach the treaty.
But the compromise has not seen Brussels back down, with Eric Mamer, chief spokesman for the European Commission, telling a press briefing that its position had not changed and it still wanted the offending clauses to be withdrawn from the legislation.
Despite the wrangle over the Bill – which has been derided by every living former prime minister, scores of senior Tory backbenchers, US Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Brussels – commission president Ms von der Leyen said she remained sure that consensus on a future partnership with the UK could be reached.
It comes after the former London School of Economics student used her annual State of the Union address to the European Parliament on Wednesday to warn Mr Johnson the UK could not unilaterally set aside the Withdrawal Agreement.
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Ms von der Leyen told reporters on Thursday: “Where the UK is concerned, we want an agreement, and I think the attempt to violate the Withdrawal Agreement distracted very strongly from the ongoing negotiations.
“This was an unpleasant surprise.
“And therefore it is time now that our British friends restore the trust in the validity of a signature under treaty, and that we keep on going, focused to negotiate because time is running out.”
In reply to another question, the German politician said she was “still convinced” a deal with London “can be done”.
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