Brussels keeps swords raised before Boris Johnson’s new pulse

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The European Union has decided to keep its swords raised in the face of Boris Johnson’s claim to unilaterally alter the Brexit agreement, while at least 30 ‘Tory’ deputies plan to torpedo the plans of the ‘premier’ in Parliament from Monday. Several European representatives have reminded Johnson that “treaties must be complied with” and that respect for the divorce agreement is a “prerequisite” for signing a commercial treaty.

The British Government has assured for its part that it will continue negotiating the future trade agreement “in good faith” and has expressed its confidence that the order launched by Johnson this week will serve to unblock the negotiations. “We believe that a [trade] agreement can still be reached,” a government spokesman declared, hours after the EU threatened to take the UK to court and impose trade and economic sanctions for “violating international law.”

The eighth round of negotiations in London miraculously survived the storm but ended with two very different perceptions. The British assured that the disruption caused by Johnson had had its effect and that the talks were indeed more cordial and productive than expected.

The EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier , however assured that “significant differences” still exist and accused his hosts of “not getting involved”, while stressing that “mutual trust” will be necessary to move forward. In any case, the EU has decided to intensify preparations for the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ , an increasingly close possibility after the latest maneuvers by the Boris Johnson government.

The European Parliament joined the reactions against Johnson’s decision with a severe official statement: “If the British authorities violate the Withdrawal Agreement, through the internal markets law with its current text or in some other way, Parliament European will not ratify any agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom. ”

The British chief negotiator, David Frost , will go to Brussels next week to continue seeking a compromise, although all eyes will be on the Westminster Parliament, which will once again be the scene of the umpteenth Brexit battle after a long period of unusual calm imposed by the pandemic. On Monday, the Internal Markets Act enters the House of Commons , with which Johnson hopes to “rewrite” the Irish Protocol and avoid at all costs the creation of an internal customs office.

The law is expected to be voted on that same day, and at least 30 ‘Tory’ deputies have anticipated that they could vote against the Johnson government (which already has a majority of 364 of the 650 deputies). The first to announce an amendment was precisely the conservative Bob Neill, who aspires to win support for Parliament’s veto of any possible violation of international law.

Former ‘premier’ Theresa May could join the new rebellion of the ‘Tories’ and has warned Boris Johnson that the international reputation of the United Kingdom is what is at stake . Two former Conservative leaders, John Major and Michael Howard, have also condemned Johnson’s decision to alter the EU divorce agreement at his own risk.

“How can we blame Russia, China or Iran for their conduct below international standards when we ourselves are showing this disdain for our treaty obligations?” Lord Michael Howard , a strong supporter of Brexit , asked the government openly . “Never in my life did I think I could hear a minister, let alone a conservative [Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis] say that we are ready to violate international law.”

Other prominent Conservative Party figures, such as Tom Tugenhadt (head of the Paraliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee) and Tobias Ellwood (Chairman of the Defense Committee) have also distanced themselves from Johnson.

The ‘premier’ has not only reopened the thunder box in his own party in the House of Commons, but also faces a parliamentary obstructionism in the House of Lords, with the deadline of October 15 (set by himself) to try to seal a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU. Johnson started the week with clear provocation (or calculated strategy) by declaring that a trade “no deal” with the EU and an “Australian” solution would be “a good result . ”

The ‘premier’ has once again earned himself the anathema in the European capitals with his threat to “clarify” the EU divorce agreement . From Dublin, the Minister for European Affairs Thomas Byrne accused him of “a unilateral and provocative act” that may put the peace process in Ireland at risk .

Also Irish Paschal Donohoe , is his condition as the new president of the Eurogroup , he reminded the ‘premier’ that respecting the Brexit agreement is “a prerequisite” to be able to negotiate a trade treaty. “It is imperative that the British government responds to the EU demand and complies with the withdrawal agreement,” Donohoe stressed.

“The treaties must be honored and everyone knows that , ” declared the host of the Eurogroup meeting, German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz . “It is clear that everyone must stick to what has already been agreed,” he said.

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