(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson is trying to win the support of Conservative opponents of his plan to break international law and redraw the Brexit deal he struck with the European Union as time runs out to reach a trade agreement with the bloc.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU will never back down on the Withdrawal Agreement the U.K. prime minister signed less than a year ago, a sign the two sides are entrenching their positions. The prospects of a deal are fading, Von Der Leyen said.
Read More: How Johnson Is Risking U.K.’s Reputation, Trade Deals: QuickTake
- Minister Brandon Lewis says the threat to break international law was sanctioned by lawyers
- Key Border IT System Won’t Be Ready for Brexit, Industry Warns
- Buckland sees controversial bill passing in Commons
Von Der Leyen: Chances of Deal Fading (10:45 a.m.)
“With every day that passes, the chances of a timely agreement do start to fade,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told EU lawmakers in Brussels. In a keynote address to the European Parliament, the president of the bloc’s executive arm warned that the Withdrawal Agreement “cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded or dis-applied.”
Von der Leyen quoted former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as she lambasted the U.K.’s intention to backpedal on what was agreed last year: “Britain does not break treaties. It would be bad for Britain, bad for relations with the rest of the world, and bad for any future Treaty on trade,” she said.
Lewis: Deal Threat Sanctioned by Lawyers (10:35 a.m.)
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis said his statement to lawmakers last week that the U.K. is prepared to break international law “in a specific and limited way” to renege on the Brexit withdrawal agreement was made in line with legal advice provided by government lawyers.
As he appeared before members of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Committee, Lewis was criticized over his comments on the controversial Internal Markets Bill.
Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley asked where Lewis’s “Damascene conversion” had come from, while Robert Goodwill -- a member of Lewis’s own party -- asked sarcastically if the statement Lewis read to the Commons had been put into his hand by Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s key adviser.
Buckland: Lawbreaking Bill Will Pass (Earlier)
Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said he has been in talks with Tory rebels over the Internal Markets Bill and has already made some inroads with them over their opposition to the controversial legislation. Boris Johnson has a big enough Parliamentary majority to see his measures through, he said, and the EU should recognize that.
Asked if he would resign if the U.K. breaks international law by unilaterally abandoning parts of the Withdrawal Agreement, Buckland told BBC radio his decision would depend on the circumstances. If the EU acts in good faith “and we capriciously and egregiously say ‘No, thank you, and goodbye,’ I think that causes me a problem,” he said.
Key Freight IT System Won’t Be Ready (Earlier)
The key IT system designed to avert border chaos when Britain finally separates from the European Union at the end of the year won’t be fully tested and ready in time, according to Britain’s biggest logistics trade group.
Government officials told Logistics U.K. that the Smart Freight System -- designed to avoid snarl-ups at key channel ports such as Dover -- will only go into beta testing in mid-December and won’t be completed until April, the lobby group said in a statement on Tuesday.
Read more: Key Border IT System Won’t Be Ready for Brexit, Industry Warns
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