Head of UK government’s legal department quits over Brexit deal threat (Reuters)

  • The head of the British government’s legal department has quit over suggestions that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is threatening to override the Brexit divorce deal with the EU.
  • Jonathan Jones is said to be leaving his job due to a dispute with Johnson’s office over its reported plans to undercut the Withdrawal Agreement treaty signed in January in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol.
  • This follows as the UK government announced yesterday that it is considering amending the deal’s special arrangements for Northern Ireland which aim to avoid creating a hard border with the Irish Republic and allow trade to flow while protecting the bloc’s internal market.
  • The UK government said in response that it was committed to the treaty but that it needed minor clarifications and a backup plan to support the 1998 Northern Ireland peace deal.

UK’s Brexit plans would ‘break international law,’ minister admits (CNN)

  • The UK is preparing legislation which will “break international law in a very specific and limited way,” a cabinet minister has said in the House of Commons.
  • Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, made the comment in response to a question concerning legislation to be published on Wednesday, which critics fear would alter the contents of the Brexit deal that Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with the European Union last autumn.
  • Former Prime Minister Theresa May, who negotiated the bulk of the Brexit deal, formally known as the Withdrawal Agreement, asked in the Commons chamber: “How can the government reassure future international partners that the UK can be trusted to abide by the legal obligations of the agreements it signs?”
  • Downing Street has confirmed that the Internal Market Bill, due to be published on Wednesday, will contain clauses that are designed to ensure all that trade between the four countries of the United Kingdom will be unfettered and that Northern Ireland will remain part of the UK’s customs territory. The government has repeatedly claimed that its plan is merely to clear up ambiguities in the Northern Ireland Protocol and that the UK is still working with the EU to find an acceptable solution to the Irish border question.

No-deal Brexit is the most likely outcome of trade talks, former EU chief says (CNBC)

  • UK and EU negotiators are unlikely to reach a trade agreement in the coming months, Jean-Claude Juncker, the former president of the European Commission, said at an event.
  • The two negotiating teams started their eighth round of discussions over new trade arrangements on Tuesday. However, the trade talks have not made any significant progress so far and there are growing doubts that this will change in the coming weeks.
  • “The situation is not developing in the best direction possible,” Jean-Claude Juncker, who led the executive arm of the EU between 2014 and 2019, said at an event. “No deal is the most possible and probable and only outcome of the negotiations,” Juncker said.