Brexit battle awaits MPs as controversial ‘law-breaking’ legislation returns

PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is gearing up for a Brexit battle in the House of Commons next week, with key legislation scheduled to appear before MPs.

Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg said the UK Internal Market Bill will return on December 7 following a series of defeats in the Lords, which saw peers remove controversial "law-breaking" powers that enable the Government to breach the Brexit divorce deal.

The Government has pledged to reinsert the controversial clauses, although this is likely to hinge on whether UK and EU negotiators reach an agreement in the coming days on future arrangements.

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Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg (Yui Mok/PA)

Critics of the powers have suggested the Government has used the threat of breaching the Withdrawal Agreement as a negotiating tactic while also damaging the country's global reputation.

But ministers have insisted the powers are required to protect the relationship between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, although they have acknowledged they do breach international law.

The legislation sets out the way that trade within the UK will work once it is outside the EU's single market and customs union.

Peers also inflicted defeats on the Government over devolution matters, amid concerns that the Bill brushes aside the freedoms of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

MPs will also consider those amendments on Monday.

Mr Rees-Mogg confirmed the Government will be "pushing back" on all amendments made to the Bill by the Lords.

He said: "We will be doing the Lords amendments on Monday and we will be pushing back all the amendments which were made in the Lords – including the ones relating to Clause 5 and ensuring that we can put the best interests of the whole United Kingdom first."

Mr Rees-Mogg also confirmed that the Commons will be asked on December 8 to approve a ways and means resolution related to the Taxation (Post-Transition Period) Bill, with such a motion needed to authorise the creation, extension or increase of taxes or other charges.

On December 9, the second reading and committee stages of the Bill will take place.

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Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz (UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor/PA)

Shadow Commons leader Valerie Vaz called it a "dummy" Bill.

Responding to Mr Rees-Mogg's announcement that MPs will debate the legislation next week, the Labour MP said: "Can I thank the Leader of the House for the business, but this is dummy business, isn't it? Because this is a dummy Bill next week – it hasn't even been published."

Mr Rees-Mogg replied: "It is a real Bill that will be coming forward. A real Bill in terms of the EU taxation provisions once we have ended the transition period."

The Commons has also reserved time to consider further Lords amendments on December 10, which is likely to be required should peers fight back over the UK Internal Market Bill.

Conservative former minister Sir Christopher Chope asked Mr Rees-Mogg to allow the Commons to "sit until Christmas Eve" to discuss all the important issues, including coronavirus tier restrictions.

Mr Rees-Mogg has yet to announce the Christmas recess dates, noting: "I can assure the House we will not be sitting on Christmas Day."

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