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Emergency Brexit talks due in London today after UK reveals bill to override Withdrawal Agreement

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove will meet senior EU official Maroš Šefčovič to discuss the situation.

EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier arriving from the Eurostar as he meets EU Ambassador to the UK.
EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier arriving from the Eurostar as he meets EU Ambassador to the UK.
Image: PA

HASTILY ARRANGED TALKS will take place in London today after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson moved to override key parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Concerns have been raised in particular around the commitment to State aid rules and the UK’s commitments to Northern Ireland made in the Withdrawal Agreement, which has been ratified in the House of Commons and European Parliament.

An “extraordinary meeting” of the Joint Committee between the UK and EU was called after the Prime Minister unveiled proposed legislation to alter three key elements of the Brexit deal with Brussels, all concerning Northern Ireland.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove will meet senior EU official Maroš Šefčovič to discuss the situation, as talks between the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost and his Brussels counterpart Michel Barnier continue.

The meeting between Gove and Šefčovič comes as Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi insisted there was “absolutely no chance” of Congress passing an American trade deal with the UK if the Northern Ireland peace process was “imperilled”.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said she was “very concerned” following the tabling in Parliament of the UK Internal Market Bill, which ministers have admitted will breach international law.

She said such actions would “undermine trust” and called on the Prime Minister to honour his past commitments.

The European Commission’s chief spokesperson Eric Mamer tweeted late on Wednesday: “Following today’s announcement by the UK, Maros Sefcovic will travel to London tomorrow to meet Michael Gove for an extraordinary meeting of the Joint Committee.

“The EU seeks clarifications from the UK on the full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.”

Ministers argue the new proposed legislation is necessary to protect the Northern Ireland peace process if London and Brussels are unable to agree a free trade deal before the current Brexit transition period runs out at the end of the year.

Tory former prime minister Sir John Major reacted angrily to Mr Johnson’s stance on international law.

“For generations, Britain’s word – solemnly given – has been accepted by friend and foe. Our signature on any treaty or agreement has been sacrosanct,” he said.

Over the last century, as our military strength has dwindled, our word has retained its power. If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha. We’ll be sending a Brexit newsletter out today with the latest on the Internal Markets Bill, the Irish government’s “alarm bell” response, and the European Union’s “emergency meeting” in London today.

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