London. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes his controversial law to overturn the Brexit agreements on Northern Ireland can come into force quickly.
The bill, which passed Monday night’s second reading in the House of Commons, could become law by the end of the year, Johnson told the BBC.
Despite some fierce criticism from within their own ranks, a majority of 295 MPs in London voted in favor of the project, which is intended to override parts of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. 221 MPs voted against. However, dozens of MPs from Johnson’s Conservative Party reportedly abstained. The vote was considered the first mood test for the draft, which still has to overcome several hurdles in Parliament.
During the debate on the vote, former Prime Minister Theresa May criticized the bill for being ineffective, “not legal” under international law and damaging the United Kingdom’s image in the world.
The government in London wants to use the bill to force Brussels to reopen the agreement on the special status for Northern Ireland that was only concluded in 2019 as part of the Brexit treaty. The EU Commission strictly rules this out and instead wants to negotiate solutions within the framework of the existing agreement.
The Northern Ireland Protocol stipulates that the province will remain part of the EU’s internal market and European Customs Union. This should prevent goods controls at the border to EU member Ireland. Otherwise, the conflict between supporters and opponents of unification of the two parts of Ireland is expected to flare up again. But controls between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK are now necessary. The Johnson government intends to subsequently reverse this consequence, but without presenting an alternative solution.
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220628-99-827545/3