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LABOUR leader Sir Keir Starmer said today that he could back Boris Johnson’s new Brexit legislation if the PM addresses “substantial cross-party concerns” over the Internal Market Bill.
Mr Starmer raised further objections over the Bill that the government proposed last week, that seeks to override parts of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) that relate to Northern Ireland.
Northern Ireland is currently supposed to adhere to some EU regulations after the transition period ends on December 31, in a bid to stop a “hard border” with the Republic.
The Bill, which would axe requirements for new customs arrangements in the six counties and would end the WA’s legitimacy in areas such as state aid, will be debated on Monday in the Commons.
Amendments are expected from both sides of the house.
Senior chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves confirmed that Labour would vote against the Bill as it stands.
But, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Sir Keir said that Labour is “prepared to back” the proposed legislation with substantial changes to help ministers to “get on with Brexit.”
Mr Starmer said: “Labour is prepared to play its part in making that happen.”
He added: “But if they do not [make changes], and the talks collapse, then it is their failure and incompetence that will have let the British people down.”
Mr Starmer accused Mr Johnson of having “turned the clock back” in UK-EU negotiations and of “reigniting old rows” by introducing the Bill.
Last week, Labour and the SNP raised concerns over the Bill potentially breaching international law and enabling a “power grab” from Scottish and Welsh administrations.
The Communist Party has argued that the Bill “ups the ante” in negotiations with the EU.
CP international secretary John Foster wrote in the Morning Star last week that the Bill could have long-term ramifications for industrial policy in Britain.
“The Bill explicitly withdraws powers delegated to legislatures in Scotland and Wales to provide financial aid to industry — for Scotland as long ago as the Scotland Act of 1998,” he wrote.
“And it similarly blocks any attempt to secure parallel powers for regional authorities in England.”
Mr Johnson’s official spokesman has claimed that Holyrood, Stormont and Cardiff Bay would benefit from powers returned from Brussels.
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