The European Union (EU) is able to take legitimate action against the UK (UK) whether the latter violates the letter or spirit of the Withdrawal Agreement it signed in January to start exiting the EU. The United Kingdom has been provided time until the end of this month to either abandon or suitably revise plans to introduce an Internal Market Invoice in the British parliament to effectively renege on some of its obligations.
In maybe the angriest remark issued by either party in the Brexit process, the European Commission, which administers the EU, said, “Vice-President Maros Sefcovic (of the EC) stated that whether the Invoice were to be adopted, it would constitute an extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law.” It also maintained “neither the EU nor the United Kingdom can unilaterally change, clarify, amend interpret, forget or disapply the agreement”.
It continued that Sefcovic “called on the United Kingdom government to withdraw these measures from the draft invoice in the shortest time imaginable and in spite of everything by the end of the month”. He alleged “by putting forward this invoice, the United Kingdom has seriously damaged believe between the EU and the United Kingdom”. And pointed out that there was once quite a lot of mechanisms and legitimate remedies to address violations “which the European Union might not be shy in the usage of”. It warned that violations will “put at risk the ongoing future relationship negotiations”.
The Europhobic Indian-origin British attorney-general, Suella Braverman, meantime published her legitimate opinion in defence of the proposed invoice. She claimed “in the difficult and highly exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves, you will need to consider the essential precept of parliamentary sovereignty”.
The EU suggested in a veiled manner that law and order in Northern Ireland (which is part of Britain and where Catholics militants were persuaded to lay down arms in a 1998 agreement) would be in jeopardy. It reminded the United Kingdom, “The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland is an fundamental a part of the Withdrawal Agreement. Its aim is to give protection to peace and stability on the island of Ireland and was once the results of long, detailed and difficult negotiations between the EU and the United Kingdom.”
Mark Elliott, professor of public law at Cambridge University, asserted the invoice which would have been drafted by Braverman is “utterly risible”. He tweeted “the Internal Market Invoice authorises Ministers to repudiate particular, critical and recently agreed legitimate obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement & NI (Northern Ireland) Protocol”. In another tweet he posted she “attempts, but fails, to make an exceptionalist argument based on parliamentary sovereignty & dualism”.
A section of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative party are distinctly uneasy approximately breaking treaty commitments. His predecessors Sir John Major and Theresa May have expressed shock at the development. Another former leader of the Conservatives, Lord Michael Howard, in a speech at the House of Lords asked: “How are we able to reproach Russia, China or Iran when their conduct falls below internationally accepted standards, when we are showing scant respect for our treaty obligations?”
The main opposition Labour party in addition to Scottish nationalists and Liberal Democrats are firmly against rescinding international pledges. A response from the British government to the EU remark was once awaited. The Indian high commission in London and Indian embassy in Brussels were following developments with interest.