The Government has rebuffed a fresh demand from the EU to withdraw controversial legislation which could see the UK unilaterally tear up elements of the Brexit divorce deal.
At talks in Brussels on Monday, European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic reiterated calls for ministers to scrap provisions in the UK Internal Market Bill giving them the power to override key provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement.
At a news conference following the meeting of the joint committee on the implementation of the agreement, Mr Sefcovic said the EU “will not be shy” in taking legal action if the UK fails to comply by the deadline of the end of the month on Wednesday.
However the Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, who co-chairs the committee with Mr Sefcovic, said the the Government intended to continue with passage of the Bill through Parliament.
He said the provisions relating to the Northern Ireland protocol in the agreement were a legal “safety net” to ensure the Government could continue to protect the peace process if talks on a post-Brexit free trade deal fail.
“We want to reach agreement in the joint committee, we want to make sure that the position of Northern Ireland is secure in the United Kingdom, we want to make sure that Withdrawal Agreement is implemented in full.
“But those clauses are there.
“They are in legislation supported by the House of Commons as a safety net if need be.
“And those clauses will remain that Bill.”